Dinner Tonight: Lake Trout With Nuoc Mam Gung and Broccoli

Dinner Tonight

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[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

I should point out immediately that I'm talking about the Lake Trout you'll find in Lake Michigan and Lake Superior, not the delicious speciality of Baltimore (which, for the record, is neither a trout or from a lake). Instead, this firm-fleshed fish has a pink hue that kind of reminds me of salmon. Perhaps that's why my initial thought was to cover the fillets in an Asian-inspired glaze that would crisp up in the oven. But I worried that the irregular contour of the fillets would lead to an uneven finish, not to mention a few burnt spots, so I moved on.

Not wanting to leave Asia entirely, I ultimately settled on a flavorful Vietnamese dipping sauce called nuoc mam gung—a potent mixture of ginger, garlic cloves, chilies, lime juice, sugar, and fish sauce—that tugs at your tongue in all directions. Plus, all you have to do is toss everything in a bowl and stir.

With the fish and sauce settled, I just needed a side to round out the meal. Heading back to the Midwest, I settled on some broccoli. While I normally chop off most of the stems and cook the florets, I was reminded of a great technique from Barbara Kafka's Roasting: A Simple Art, which calls for peeling the stems and then tossing them in a flavorful vinaigrette. When roasted, the stems seem to suck up their flavorful bath, coming out of the oven delectably tender. It's a great trick, and after replacing the lemon and olive oil vinaigrette with a rice wine vinegar one, I was ready to go.

You can serve the fish and broccoli with a small dish of the sauce on the sauce, or simply pour some of the sauce on top of each fillet. Either way works.

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