Thursday, October 18, 2007

Catfish Stir Fry with Bean Threads

While at Geresbeck's yesterday (see previous post), I decided to shop for ingredients for dinner. I haven't had a chance to use my wok since unpacking it and decided to put it to work. Tonight: a stir fry with whatever vegetables seemed good, and some sort of seafood base. I had considered reusing meatloaf stocked away in the freezer, but what person would actually stir fry meatloaf? (Google it - you find nothing but pages where the words "meatloaf stir fry" are coincidentally next to each other.) I found my answer at Geresbeck's: catfish. At about $4.80 a pound.

Catfish Stir Fry with Bean Threads


for the dipping sauce:
2 T. fish sauce (Vietnamese is the best - try to find one with no corn syrup in it)
2 small Thai chilies, chopped, not seeded (unless, of course, you're a wuss)
about 1 T shavings from carrot (julienned or shaved with the vegetable peeler)

for the wok:
1 T vegetable oil, for frying
2 cloves garlic, smooshed and chopped
2 - 3 Thai chilies, chopped, not seeded (again, note the wuss comment above)
1 cm. cube fresh ginger, sliced into strips (yes, I went metric on you)
1 small yellow onion, sliced or chopped
1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
1 carrot, peeled and julienned or shaved with vegetable peeler
2 handfuls snow peas, in pouches
1 handful Thai basil
fish sauce to taste
1 lb. catfish fillets, cut into 1" pieces and marinated in:
2 T fish sauce,
1 chopped Thai chili,
juice of 1 - 2 limes, and
3 c. apple juice

for the bean threads:
1 small pot's worth of boiling water
2 nests of bean threads

Serves three to four

Combine the ingredients for the dipping sauce in a small bowl and let sit until you're ready to eat.

Put the catfish into a glass or other non-reactive container with the fish sauce, apple juice and chilis, and let sit at least 20 minutes.

Boil water. Add bean threads once boiling, remove from heat, and cover for 15 minutes.

Coat the wok with the oil, dumping out excess oil if necessary, and fry the ginger, garlic, chilis and onion over low heat (or else they will burn). Throw in the red pepper, carrots and snow peas and stir fry over low heat, adding fish sauce as desired...

A note about the fish sauce: there's a lot more available these days in the US, and at least in a large metro area, you don't need to travel far to find some. There is some junk out there, but some good stuff as well. The "nuoc-mam-miers" (fish sauce snobs) recommend the fish sauce from Vietnam. Even so, look for the kind with sugar instead of corn syrup. Okay, back to the recipe.

Take the catfish and add that to the wok, stirring occasionally. Cover the wok and let cook until catfish breaks easily and is not transparent.

Drain the bean threads. Put a small amount of the transparent bean threads on plate (as much or as little as desired), and put stir-fry on top. Serve with dipping sauce. I liked to dip my fish in the carrot-chili-tinged fish sauce instead of sauce (ooh, note to self: buy soy sauce). It's some tasty catfish!


Dan said...

Catfish stir fry, eh? That's one I would have never thought of. I make a really good beer soaked, oven fried catfish but the last time I got the fish it was so fishy I couldn't even eat it. No matter how much tartar sauce was on it!

John said...

I think I've seen it on occasion in some Vietnamese and Thai restaurants. Sounded good. I've heard soaking fish in milk actually cuts down on the fishiness. I have no idea where I heard that though.