If I remember correctly, it was in the TV show Bizarre Food where I saw a chef making spring rolls stuffed with fish fillets marinated in coconut milk and spices. I may be wrong about which TV show it was but I distinctly remember that the episode was about Vietnamese food and the host was chatting with the restaurant manager about fish sauce.
Last night, I cooked fish with coconut spring rolls but, unlike the ones I saw on TV, my fish fillets were mixed with desiccated coconut. Instead of rice paper, I used regular spring roll wrappers.
You can buy desiccated coconut in most supermarkets. They come in plastic bags. If you’re wondering whether you can use freshly grated mature coconut (niyog), I think they will make the spring rolls soggy because of the amount of moisture in them. Meanwhile, the dry desiccated coconut gets rehydrated by the natural moisture of the fish.
- 1 kilogram fish fillets (lapu-lapu, maya-maya, labahita, tilapia…)
- 1 cup desiccated coconut
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup finely sliced green onions
- 1 to 2 green finger chilies finely chopped (see tip on how to control the spiciness)
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 24 spring roll wrappers
- a bunch of cilantro roughly chopped
- 1 egg beaten
- 2 to 3 cups vegetable cooking oil for deep frying
Cut the fish fillets into finger sized pieces, about half an inch wide by three to four inches long. Mix the fish fillets with the dessicated coconut, chilis, spring onions and salt.
Separate the spring roll wrappers.
On a spring roll wrapper, lay a fish and make sure you include a generous amount of spring onions and chilis. Sprinkle some chopped cilantro, brush the edges of the wrapper with egg wash, roll and seal (see step-by-step guide on wrapping spring rolls). Repeat until all the fish fillets have been wrapped.
Heat the cooking oil. Fry the spring roll in batches until golden brown, rolling them for even cooking.
Serve the fish and coconut spring rolls immediately with nuoc mam pha for dipping.
If you’re wondering what the other dish in the photo is, it’s crispy catfish and green mango salad (yum pla dook foo).