Monday, November 20, 2017

Recipe: Ca Nuong Da Don aka Vietnamese Roasted Catfish

One of my boyfriend's favorite Vietnamese entrees is Ca Nuong Da Don aka Roasted Catfish.  Any of my friends know I've been making this numerous times over the past few months to try different techniques to perfect a crispy skin.  After consulting other home cooks and foodies about their experiences, I'm now convinced the restaurants flash fry the catfish to get that perfectly crisp and oh so delectable Catfish skin that I love munching on. 

A few tips:
1. You need a broiler oven that actually has a flame aka a gas oven broiler.  A high heat broiler aka electric broiler just doesn't do the job.
2. Catfish skin is already oily as is - a wet marinade will not help with obtaining a crispy skin.  Salt (or garlic salt) and pepper will suffice with seasoning.
3. Get a rack like the one pictured above when you roast. 
4. Cleaning the black skin of the catfish so that it becomes white is hard.  You can dunk the catfish into hot water real quick and then scrub it down with a brillo pad, but I suggest just asking the fish mongerer to do that cleaning for you.  It saves much time, energy, and in my case, a complaining boyfriend 😆

The Fish
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Wash and clean the catfish and then thoroughly dry out the catfish.  This helps to crisp up the skin.
3. Depending on how big the fish is, using the juice of 1-2 lemons, drenched the fish skin with the lemon and let it sit for 5 minutes.  Repeat drenching the fish skin and let it sit for another 5 minutes.
4. Dry off the catfish again. 
5. Score shallow slits alongside the body of the fish.  Season with garlic salt and pepper. 
6. Line a roasting pan or baking sheet with aluminum foil.  Place fish right side up on top of a rack.
7. Bake in the oven until the fish turns golden brown.

Scallion Oil - No roasted cat fish would be complete without scallion oil to drizzle over.  I usually just eyeball this so bear with me on the guestimate
1. Dice 3 bunches of scallions.
2. Heat 1/3 cup of canola oil until smoking.  Turn off the heat.
3. Add in the scallion.
4. Add half a teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon sugar and stir to mix.

The Finish
1. Remove fish from oven when fish is golden brown.  Turn on the broiler
2. Wait for the oven to notify you when the broiler is ready.
3. Brush the fish with plenty of honey to coat and immediately return the fish back into the broiler.  WATCH THE FISH so it doesn't burn!  When it reaches a dark crispy skin, remove the fish from the oven.
4. Garnish with the scallion oil and crushed roasted peanuts (I don't always garnish with peanuts but the scallion oil is a must for me).

Traditionally, this dish is served spring roll style with fresh vegetables and dipped in mam me aka Tamarind dipping sauce.

Bon appetite!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Recipe: Seared Scallops

I made seared scallops over the weekend and it was a hit with my audience.  A few of my friends have asked how to get a great sear so here it is:

  1. Layer 3 paper towels.
  2. Place scallops on top of the towels.  Sprinkle with salt. (I use Himalayan pink salt).
  3. Let the scallops sit for 25 minutes.  The towel and the salt will get rid of the excess water from the scallops.  You want the surface of the scallops to be dry to get that nice seared crust.
  4. Heat 1 – 2 tbsp of olive oil and 1 tbsp of butter in a sauce pan.
  5. In a clock wise direction, place the scallops starting at 12 o’clock around the edge of the sauce pan.  I use this “clock” method as borrowed from Food Network Chef Anne Burrell as it helps to keep track of which scallops got seared first.
  6. Let sear for 1 – 1 ½ minutes and then flip the scallops using the clock method.
  7. Serve.
Bon appetit!