Recipes Seafood

Catfish in Sweet-Sour Sauce of Fermented Rice and Galangal

The culinary expert Ms. Bui Thi Suong shared in a jury session of the Golden Spoon Awards 2013 that “The more we think about it, the more we admire our ancestors. They did not learn about micro-biology, or chemical reactions; nor did they study on fermentation, warming or food handling. Yet they only used their skills and experience to create dishes that up till now could not be substituted.” Such was the comment on the food called “mẻ”—fermented rice—of the Northern Delta by a teacher and researcher of culinary arts for over 30 years. We can create a very nutritional spice of delicately sour flavor only with the rice cooked in water, set cool, let fermented (and this fermented layer will be used as yeast (leaven) for the next batch). The five-star cooks of Hyatt Da Nang reminiscence about the North land when cooking catfish in sweet-sour sauce of fermented rice and galangal. This, combined with Western culinary technique, has turned out a fish dish that is seemingly easy to cook, but requires meticulous skills to become a masterpiece.


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Serves: 4 Prep Time: Cooking Time:


  • 800g filet of catfish
  • 100g breadcrumb
  • 20g galangal roots
  • 10g garlic
  • 1g ground black pepper
  • 2g salt
  • 500ml cooking oil
  • 100g onions
  • 30g green onions
  • 100g tomatoes
  • 30g tomato paste
  • 30g chili paste
  • 15g fermented rice
  • 10g shrimp paste
  • 50ml water
  • 10g galangal roots
  • 5g sugar




Prepare the fish: Cleanse the fish well, cut into bite-size morsels, and divide all into four equal portions. Crush and strain the galangal roots and garlic for extract.

Prepare the ingredients for the sauce: Rinse the tomatoes well, cut them into wedges. Do the same with the onion. Slice the galangal into matchstick strings. Cut the green onion into chunks of 2.5cm in length.

Fry the fish: Marinate the fish with the galangal and garlic extract together with 2g of salt. 1g pepper; toss well and leave for 15 minutes for the fish to absorb the spices. Heat 500ml of cooking oil in a pan over a stove. When the oil is properly hot, roll each piece of fish in breadcrumbs, take out and slightly shake off any excess breadcrumbs, then drop it into the hot oil pan, fry till both sides are evenly browned. Take the fish out and place on a plate lined with oil-absorbing tissue.

Make the sauce: Pour 15ml of the cooking oil that has just been used to fry the fish into a pan on oven top; stir the galangal strings in this oil till scented; continue to add the onion and tomatoes, then add 30g of tomato paste, 30g chili paste and 50ml water; stir well; then add 10g fermented shrimp paste, 15g fermented cooked rice, 5g sugar; and bring all to boil. Taste to favor, add the green onion, stir well, and turn off the heat.


Arrange the fish on a serving plate, pour the sauce on top and serve hot. Hot cooked rice can be served as a side dish, or the fish can be enjoyed by itself.


The fish has been fried browned and crunchy, not dry. The flesh is cooked to the inner parts. The sauce has a slightly sweet-sour flavor and the fragrance of galangal and fermented rice. The colors are harmonious.


Choose the ripe tomatoes to render beautiful color for the sauce.

If catfish cannot be found, snakehead fish or bass (barramundi) can be substituted.

Choose the not too yellowish fermented rice since the aged one has a strong sharp sour taste, a very pungent smell, and is not tasty.

Smash the fermented rice via a fine mesh strainer before adding to the sauce so that the sauce is smooth and blended well 4 with other spices.


It is good for those who have weakened immune system, indigestion, cough with profuse phlegm, dizziness, high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, loss of sexual desire, decreased body resistance, osteoporosis, joint pain, obesity, constipation; it is good for those who are susceptible to vomiting and inflammation.





HO CONG QUYET Hyatt Regency Da Nang Resort & Spa (Da Nang City) Runner-up in the semifinal round of the Northern Regions of the Golden Spoon Awards 2013

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