Pan-Seared Fish Collars-Ức Cá Chiên

Vietnamese food
“Fish Collar” in English but it is called “Ức Cá” which means”Fish sternum” in Vietnamese.  It is cheap and I start seeing them around grocery stores in town.  If you never cook or eat them, you should try.  It is a  flavorful, rich omega oil, delicious meal.  Use your precaution and only buy fresh fish. 

Cá Chiên/Pan-seared fish is a simple dish and eaten with steamed/boiled veggies, soup and rice in daily meals.  At the table, everyone uses chopsticks to pick a small piece of fish-Do you hear “small” ? Yes, indeed a small piece not like the whole steak or even 1/4 of it.  Then dip it into a soy sauce or fish sauce mixture, put it on the top of rice in a rice bowl which is hold with another hand.  The bowl is raised close to our mouth and  a small portion of rice with that little piece of fish is skillfully transferred  to our mouth by the chopsticks.  Then repeat the same process for steamed/boiled veggie.  Then soup is ladled into the bowl with a little rice near the end of the meal.  “We eat to live” as Vietnamese saying.

Make 4 servings, need 1 or 2 fish collars for one serving depending on theirs sizes
4-8 fish collars about 3 lb, cleaned, drained and no need to scale if fish has soft scales like stealhead, salmon, trout
1 green onion, thinly sliced
4 Tbs vegetable oil
Steamed/boiled/fresh veggie and cooked rice to serve

Heat 2 Tbs oil in a non-stick large pan over medium high heat.  Sprinkle and rub a little salt over fish collars both sides.  Then add  fish collars to the pan skin side down first. If the fish starts to arc, use a spatula press each piece down a few seconds.  Do not touch or turn  until the fish cooked about 1/4 up from the side and the skin is golden brown and crisp.  Turn over about 5 minutes until golden brown.  if the fish collars are big turn the heat down to medium and cook 2-3 minutes longer.  Add more oil if needed. Break one piece at center to check if it turns opaque color, it is done.  Sprinkle green onion and remove from heat, serve hot or warm.

Dipping  soy sauce

1/4 cup soy sauce
Juice from 1 lime or lemon
Juice from 1/2 orange
1 garlic clove, crushed and finely minced
1-3 tsp sugar
1 small red hot chili, seeded, finely minced

Mix all the ingredients except sugar together, then add sugar 1 tsp at a time to your liking.

Dipping fish sauce, recipe in Vietnamese rice chicken.

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