Vietnamese Caramelized Catfish Fillets
with Prudence Sloane
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
½ medium red onion, sliced into ½" moons
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoon water
¼ teaspoon lemon juice (stops the sugar from crystallizing
3 teaspoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons fish stock
¼ cup chicken stock or water
1/8 to ¼ teaspoon black pepper or sliced fresh Thai chilies.
2 (8-ounce) catfish fillets* cut in half
1 scallion, diced
In a sauté pan large enough to hold all the fish in one layer, add the oil and sauté the onions over medium heat for 4-5 minutes or until beginning to brown. Remove the onions from the pan and hold aside. If the pan has a lot of burnt bits in it wash the pan before continuing. Let the pan cool off a little then add the sugar, water and lemon juice. Cook over medium heat stirring until the sugar begins to brown and smoke. Whenever it begins to smoke remove from the heat and continue stirring returning it to the heat to let it cook some more. Cook until it gets a deep brown color - about 5 minutes. When it gets deep brown immediately add the hot stock to stop it from burning. Add the garlic, fish stock, black pepper or chilies. Add the fish, smooth side up, in one layer. Cover and simmer for 4-5 minutes or until the fish almost done. Remove the cover, turn the fish over and simmer letting the liquid evaporate. As the liquid is evaporating periodically spoon the sauce over the fish. Let the liquid completely evaporate so the sauce is thick and sticky, spooning the sauce over the fish. Remove the fish to a serving platter. Deglaze the pan with a little water scraping up the cooked sugar. Reduce the sauce until syrupy and pour over the fish. Sprinkle the scallions over the fish and serve with rice.
*Fish provided by City Fish, Wethersfield.
*15% discount coupon on Internet for Monday through Wednesday.