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Sunday, February 4, 2018

Baked Catfish (Cá Bông Lau Nướng Da Giòn)

It's the Super Bowl. Are you excited about the ads, the game or half-time?
I'm sure my husband can't wait to hog the TV all day.

On Friday morning, my plan was heading out to run some errands and do one small thing a day that makes me happy - that happened to be buying myself some plants and flowers. I had finally stow away my winter decorations and wanted to usher in the blossoms and bloom in anticipation of spring.

Two days prior, I wanted to serve dried chicken noodle - phở gà khô (click here for the recipe) to my family but as I was browsing through a local market, I found myself stopping at the fish section. Right away I remembered hearing my husband complaining we haven't had enough veggies lately. I knew I needed to prepare a meal that would give us a chance to catch up on veggies and what can be better than fish rolls - baked fish with abundant of fresh vegetables wrapped in rice paper. Roll it up with strings of noodle if you want some carbs in your diet. You can buy dried noodle from the store or make it from scratch. It's so much easier to make noodle using a Philips pasta machine but if you don't have one, a potato ricer would work

The baked fish looks beautiful once it's out of the oven.  It inviting and totally irresistible when topped with scallion oil, crispy fried onion, and fresh roasted peanuts.  I just realize what really made me happy today is accomplishing this recipe to share with you.  
RECIPE: Baked Catfish
1 catfish, ask the store to clean and butterfly or split the fish
1 sweet onion, sliced
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon five spice powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons olive oil
6-8 cloves of garlic, peeled
for honey mixure
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
for toppings
green onion, minced
crispy fried shallot or fried onion
roasted peanuts, chopped
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F
Preparing Honey Mixture

Add honey and lemon juice in a small bowl, mixing to combine.  Set aside.
Marinating the Fish

Pound garlic with a mortar and pestle into a paste. Add salt, sugar, five spice powder, black pepper, and olive oil, mixing to combine.

Using your fingers to rub the spices in and distribute evenly all over the fish. Line onion slices on the baking tray.  Place fish on top of the onion, skin-side up.  Tuck the onion in so the fish covers the onion. 
Baking the Fish

Put the fish tray in the middle rack of the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the fish and baste the fish skin wit honey mixture. 

Place it back into the oven and increase the oven temperature to max (mine is 550 degrees F) until skin is crispy golden brown.
Preparing Toppings

Scallion Oil - while the fish is being baked, in a sauté pan, heat a tablespoon of oil and a clove of smashed garlic over medium heat. The purpose of using the garlic in oil is to impart the garlic flavor in oil You can skip garlic if preferred.  I am a fan of garlic.  When the garlic starts to turn brown, remove oil from heat.  Let it cool down for a minute then add the green onion and mix well.  Discard the garlic.  Set aside. 

Fried onion or fried shallots - I used the premade fried onions. From scratch, slice shallots thinly then fry in oil until crispy.

Roasted Peanuts - I sometime use Planters dry roasted peanuts.  You can roast raw peanuts in the pan over medium low heat until golden.

Use two spatulas to transfer fish and onion onto a serving plate. Spoon scallion oil over the top of the fish. Top with crispy fried shallots or fried onion, and roasted peanuts. Serve with rice papers as spring rolls or lettuce wraps with noodles along with herbs, lettuces, cucumbers, granny smith apple or green mango, and pickled daikon and carrots if preferred. Dip rolls in fermented shrimp pineapple sauce, fish sauce, or tamarind fish sauce.
Here's to your Superbowl celebration with this grand delight.
Eat well.  Stay healthy. 

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