200ml rice or white wine vinegar
zest of 1 lime
2 teaspoons salt
500g firm fish fillets, such as trevally
1 large or 2 small shallots, finely sliced
½ cup sugar
70g (½ cup) roasted peanuts, roughly chopped
6-8 green chillies
4 tablespoons lime juice
3 tablespoons fish sauce
¼ cup coriander leaves
½ cup mint leaves, torn, plus 4 whole leaves
6 tender end pieces lemongrass
4 cups finely shredded cabbage (I used red and savoy)
4 spring onions, sliced diagonally

I ate a version of this salad at Sri Trat in Bangkok, a gorgeous, stylish restaurant serving eastern Thai specialities. The salad comes to the table undressed and the dressing is mixed in just before you eat to keep the brittle super crunchy. You can marinate the fish for up to 24 hours at which point it will be pretty much cooked through. If you prefer it more raw, just do 6-12 hours. The salad came packed with tender slices of lemongrass, but if you don’t have access to lots of young lemongrass you can add less, say 2 tender centre pieces, just to the dressing to get the flavour more dispersed. Chillies can vary wildly in heat – removing the seeds and veins will really help reduce the heat but I like to have a little taste of the flesh before adding to decide whether to use more or less.

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1.Combine the vinegar, 100ml water, lime zest and salt in a container and stir to dissolve the salt.
2.Add the fish fillets and shallots and cover tightly.
3.Leave in the refrigerator for 6-24 hours, turning the fish in the pickling mix at least twice.
4.Line a roasting tray with baking paper. Put the sugar and 1 tablespoon water in a saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring constantly until the sugar dissolves.
5.Boil for 6-7 minutes – do not stir – until the mixture turns golden in colour.
6.Working very quickly, stir in the peanuts and then spoon or pour the toffee evenly over the baking tray.
7.Cool completely then roughly chop and store in an airtight container.
8.Slice open the chillies lengthwise. Discard the seeds and veins if you don’t want the sauce too hot, or leave some seeds in for a very hot sauce.
9.Put into a blender along with the lime juice, fish sauce, coriander and 4 mint leaves and blend to a rough sauce.
10.Remove the hard outer layers from the lemongrass and very finely chop the tender inner part, from the bottom to about 3cm up the stalk until it becomes tough.
11.Put into a bowl with the cabbage, spring onions and half of the mint and mix well.
12.Remove the fish from the pickling mix and slice into thin strips.
13.Arrange the fish over the top of the salad with a few of the pickled shallots and top with the rest of the mint.
14.Combine the peanut brittle and chilli sauce in a bowl just before serving.
15.Pile onto the salad and toss well.

Recipes & food styling Fiona Smith / Photography Aaron McLean / Styling Jess Hemmings