Vietspices Search

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Cá Nướng Cuốn Bánh Tráng (Grilled Whole Catfish)

The other day, my older brother asked me to make dinner and have his family over;  I decided to make Grilled Catfish and brought it over to his house for a feast with his mother-in-law's savory mắm tôm (pickle shrimps) and thịt heo luộc (boiled pork) rolled in rice paper.

As I mentioned in the last Mahi Mahi post, Grilled Catfish is one of the healthy dishes that my family enjoy. I often prepared Cá Nướng (Grilled Whole Fish) then rolled it up in rice paper with our homegrown lettuce and herbs, sliced cucumber, daikon and pickled carrot and strings of noodle if you want to fill your tummy up quickly. Then, dipped it in mắm nêm or mắm ruốt (Fermented Anchovy Dip or Salted Fermented Shrimp dip). I prefer my mắm ruốt dip over mắm nêm; if you make the mắm ruốt dip just right, it actually tastes as good as mắm nêm or better, but cheaper. If you prefer a milder, less fishy-flavored dipping sauce, then this would be ideal.  Here's to a delicious healthy meal for the whole family.  I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

RECIPE: Ca Nuong
 A whole large cat fish
Roasted peanut, crushed, for garnish
Fried shallot, for garnish
Mo hanh (Scallion Oil)

Making Mo Hanh
1 bunch of scallions, chopped
1 tablespoon oil
Pour about 1 or 2 tablespoons of oil into a pan on high heat. When the oil is hot, add in the chopped green onions. Stir and remove it from heat. Set it aside.

Marinate Ingredients 
1/2 cup Yoshida Sauce
1/4 cup Fish Sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 1/2 tablespoon onion powder
1/2 tablespoon ground pepper
1 tablespoon sesame oil

Preparing the Fish: buy a whole cat fish from any Asian stores. You can buy live or iced catfish. I always pick the one that has small head as the meat are usually more tender.  Ask the butcher to clean and gut the catfish. At home, put it in a kitchen sink with hot water. Use a small knife to scrape out all the black layer on the fish. Rinse it with clean water and blot it with a paper towel to dry it off.  Most of the Asian supermarkets would do this part for you, so make sure to ask them. 

Make a few cuts along the side of the fish for the marinade to penetrate. Make a long deep cut from top to the tail of fish. Lay a fish on a baking tray with foil paper on the bottom if you don't want to clean up the tray later on.

In a seperate bowl, combine all the marinate ingredients. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. Rub 2/3 of the marinade all over the fish. Make sure to get the marinade in the cuts to soak in flavor. Save the rest of the marinade to brush it on the fish while baking it.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake the fish for about half an hour. During the baking process, about every 5-7 minutes, make sure to brush the remaining marinate all over the fish until the fish is fully cooked. Switch Bake to Broil on High and continue to broil for about 5 minutes or just until the skin turns golden brown.  Make sure to keep the oven door ajar while broiling to allow steam to escape while broiling.

Transfer fish to a large plate.  Garnish with crushed roasted peanut, fried shallot and mo hanh.
Salted Fermented Shrimp Dip Ingridents

3 tablespoons Mắm Ruốt (Salted Fermented Shrimp)
1 tablespoon Sugar
1cup Coco Juice
1 piece Pineapple or use canned Pineapple, finely chopped, make 1 cup
1/2 Lime
1 tablespoon Lemon Grass, minced
1 tablespoon Ginger, minced
1 Shallot, minced
3-4 cloves of Garlic, minced
Making Salted Fermented Shrimp Dip: Mix mắm ruốt, sugar, coco juice and pineapple in a bowl.  Set aside.  Pour about 1 tablespoon of oil into a sauce pan on medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add in the garlic, shallot, lemon grass and ginger.  Stir it until the mixture release the fragnance.  Pour the mam ruot mixture in the sauce pan.  Turn the heat to high.  Remove it from heat when it starts boiling.  Squeeze the lime juice into it.  Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. 
A pack of Rice Paper (prefer three ladies brand)
Pickled Daikon and Carrot (click here for recipe)
Herbs (cilantro, Vietnamese coriander, sorrel, fish wort, mint)
Slices of Cucumber
Making Rolls
Dip a rice paper in a warm bowl of water and remove it immedietly.  Lay it flat on a non-stick plate.  Add everything on it and a piece of fish.   Roll it up and dip it in the dipping sauce. 

Grilled trout tastes as delicous as grilled catfish.



  1. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Hi Annette,

    Does it have to be a whole fish? And apart from catfish, can I use other fish? what kind?

    Your recipe looks sooo yuuummmy!

    Thanks a lot

  3. It would be better if use a whole catfish. It will keep the fish moist and soft. You can also grill salmon, snapper or other firm fleshed fish.

  4. Hi Loan,
    Where do you buy the Yoshida sauce? I can't find it in any of the Vietnamese or Korean market. Can you suggest a substitution sauce? Thanks..

  5. Hi Loan,
    How long do you marinate the fish ?

  6. I bought Yoshida sauce at Costco. I see it a lot at American stores such as Safeway, Belair, Target, etc. If you dont have it, just add soy sauce to the rest of marinate ingredients and add a little bit more of sugar. The sauce should be sweet and saltly. I really need to make this dish again and update all the pixs. They look terrible :-(

  7. Good recipe Annette. I will try to make that today for mothers day. Thanks!

  8. What aisle in target would the yoshida sauce be in?

  9. Hi Annette,

    Can you please tell me where to get those colourful plastic plates that you have. I am in Australia. Many thanks.


  10. Hi Quyen, I got those rice paper colorful plates at the Asian market here in the U.S a while ago but now they do have the white ones which I also have them and like them better than these other ones. . It's about $6 per dozen of plate. Check your local Asian markets.

    1. Hi Annette,

      Thanks for your quick reply. Hope you don't mind me asking what the difference between the two, or is it just simply you prefer one over the other?


  11. Which store in Sacramento have the best catfish to buy?

  12. I like to buy fish at Vinh Phat. They have large selection of fish and it's fresh.

  13. Can you get the crispy fish skin like the restaurants make? I have tried several time before but the skin was not dòn dòn.

  14. It's not crispy unless we deep fry it :-(. I think that's how the restaurant prepares it.

  15. Thanks so much for the wonderful recipe. It was delish!!! The whole family loved it!