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Randy Mayor; Melanie J. Clarke Photo by: Randy Mayor; Melanie J. Clarke

Sweet Black Pepper Fish

For most of its flavor, this Vietnamese classic relies on sugar and pepper, which everyone has on hand. The sugar is used to make a slightly bitter caramel sauce, and the results are spectacular.

Cooking Light JANUARY 2004

  • Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 fillet and 2 tablespoons sauce)


  • 1/2 cup water, divided
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons Thai fish sauce
  • 3 tablespoons minced peeled fresh lemongrass
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped green onions
  • 4 (6-ounce) halibut fillets
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro


Combine 1/4 cup water, sugar, and fish sauce in a large nonstick skillet; bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add lemongrass, garlic, and pepper. Cook 1 1/2 minutes or until slightly reduced. Add 1/4 cup water, onions, and fish, and cook over medium-high heat 7 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork, turning once. Sprinkle with cilantro.

Nutritional Information

Amount per serving
  • Calories: 247
  • Calories from fat: 14%
  • Fat: 3.9g
  • Saturated fat: 0.6g
  • Monounsaturated fat: 1.3g
  • Polyunsaturated fat: 1.3g
  • Protein: 36.3g
  • Carbohydrate: 13.9g
  • Fiber: 1.2g
  • Cholesterol: 54mg
  • Iron: 1.9mg
  • Sodium: 911mg
  • Calcium: 89mg

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Sweet Black Pepper Fish Recipe