Legend has it that catfish is the largest freshwater species of the fish family. There was a time when people caught a catfish weighing up to one hundred kilos. It is this fish living in the streams and rivers in the mountains and in waterfalls that is the inspiration for the Cha Ca La Vong, a famous traditional grilled dish. But, today, in the Dong Nai River, people make rafts to raise the fish with tough flesh and very few tiny bones. With a catfish bought on the river bank and a famous Bien Hoa pomelo, the creative cook of Tien Loc Restaurant created a unique dish: Catfish with Curry Sauce and Crispy Crumbed Pomelo Pith. This is an improvisational and successful dish that awakens all the senses of diners with the sweetness of catfish, the slight tanginess of well-processed pomelo pith and the fieriness of curry.
CATFISH WITH CURRY SAUCEPrint This
- INGREDIENTS FOR THE FISH
- 600g catfish fillets
- 100g breadcrumbs
- 2 chicken eggs
- 1g black pepper
- 10g garlic
- 200g pith (white part of pomelo rind)
- 40g coarse salt
- 15g alum
- 60ml water
- 4g seasoning powder
- 500ml cooking oil
- 2g sugar
- INGREDIENTS FOR THE SAUCE
- 5g curry powder
- 400ml coconut milk
- 50g lemongrass
- 15g garlic
- 5g tiny green chili pepper
- 15ml cooking oil
- 5ml paprika oil
- 1g tapioca flour
- 5ml water
- 8g sugar
- 4g seasoning powder
- 2g salt
Preparation: Fish: Clean the catfish thoroughly, then use paper towels to pat it dry. Divide it into four portions. Squash the garlic. Mix the coarse salt with the pith, beat them, then wash the pith in water five or six times to avoid the tanginess, then add the alum and continue to beat it; thoroughly rinse it and wring it out. Cut it into rectangular pieces, 5cm long, add 2g sugar.
Sauce: Cut the lemongrass into short shoestrings, 5cm long. Peel the garlic, cut off the stem of the tiny chili pepper and smash them all with a knife blade. Dissolve tapioca flour in 5ml water.
Marinate the catfish: Marinate the catfish with the garlic extract, 4g seasoning powder, 1g pepper, 1 chicken egg, and let it soak in spices for fifteen minutes. Dissolve 50g breadcrumbs in 60ml water and the whisked egg, let it rest for ten minutes. Pour the remaining breadcrumbs onto a plate.
Fry the fish and pomelo pith: Place the frying pan on the stove, when the oil is hot enough, dunk each slice of the pomelo pith into the breadcrumbs, water and egg batter, slide them into the pan one at a time until crispy and golden, then take them out and drain them on paper towels. Continue to fry the remaining pomelo pith, then take out all the extra flour in the frying pan. Coat the marinated catfish with the remaining breadcrumbs and shake off any excess breadcrumbs, put them into the oil until golden on both sides.
Make the sauce: Pour oil into a hot frying-pan, add paprika oil, lemongrass, tiny green chili pepper, and garlic, cook just until aromatic, then tip in the curry powder to stir-fry briefly and pour all the coconut extract. Cook until it boils, reduce heat, and cook for five minutes more. Add 8g of sugar, 4g of seasoning powder, 2g of salt. Taste it and if it is to your taste, slowly add the tapioca flour until gelatinous; turn off the stove.
Place the catfish onto a deep plate. Bring the sauce back to the boil. Serve hot with crispy fried pomelo pith. Decorate it with small green cilantro leaves.
The fish meat should be cooked through, firm, crisp-tender and coated in a delicious spice mix. The pomelo pith should be crispy but not be greasy. The sauce should be gelatinous, fragrant, greasy, and piquant.
You should make the sauce first. Only fry the fish and pomelo pith just before the meal to keep them hot and crispy.
Warm the sauce just before serving.
You should stir-fry the curry powder on a low heat to have a typical aroma.
EFFECTS OF THIS DISH
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.
TRAN NGOC NGHIA Tien Loc Wedding Restaurant (Dong Nai Province) Runner-up in the Golden Spoon Awards 2013