Braised Catfish Pot

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Braised Catfish PotI thoroughly enjoy when a fish dish surprises the taste buds. Wait, there’s catfish, a very fishy fish, and fish sauce? How is this dish not fishy? Vietnamese alchemy, of course! This is not to say that you do not taste the catfish, and it certainly retains its meaty texture, but when combined with the deeply caramelized onion, punchy chiles, uniquely tropical coconut water, and all the supporting players, it becomes the star catfish its parents always thought it could be. Then, it gets eaten.

  • Yield: 6 to 8 Servings
  • Total Time: 50 Minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 Thai bird chiles or 1 jalapeño, thinly sliced
  • 1½ lb (about 3-4) catfish fillets, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 6 oz coconut water
  • 6 oz sparkling water
  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced
How to Make It
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Place a skillet over medium-high heat, and add the oil. When the oil begins to shimmer, add onion and sauté for 6-8 minutes or until it begins to brown. Add garlic and continue to sauté for an additional minute. Add soy sauce, fish sauce, black pepper, sugar, and chiles, and mix well.
  3. Place the catfish pieces atop the mixture in the skillet and allow them to cook on the bottom side for 2 minutes before flipping to cook the other side for an additional minute.
  4. Pour the coconut water and sparkling water into the skillet. Bring the mixture to a boil, and remove from the heat. Transfer the uncovered skillet to the oven and braise for 25-30 minutes, or until the liquid reduces to about half, and the catfish is exposed and has darkened in color.
  5. Remove the vessel from the oven, and top with scallion slices. Serve with steamed white rice.
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