Caramelized Catfish Clay Pot is one of the must-included-dished in Vietnamese national anthem recipes. The fish is super tender and almost falls apart, while the caramelized sauce is rich and full of flavor.
The dish is often paired with a hot bowl of steamed rice and served with this fantastic Hot & Sour Tamarind Soup. These are a perfect combination for any family meal.
Catfish Clay Pot is so famous and yet, so hard to make. One must cook this dish at least a thousand times to achieve such a perfect recipe. Ok, it was exaggerated, not a thousand times, but maybe 20 to 50 times. And I would be proud to announce publicly that I've found such a recipe.
The essential equipment used to make this Catfish Clay Pot
The name Catfish Clay Pot is derived from special cooking equipment we traditionally use in Vietnam. The pot is specially made from clay, and like cast iron, it requires special care. The traditional Vietnamese hot pot is super easy to break after 10-15 usages. And it is made 100% from clay.
If you've ever wanted to own an earthenware pot, you should always go with a Japanese-style clay pot called Donabe. It's entirely more expensive than other types and clay pot brands.
But trust me, it'll last forever. I bought mine in 2015, and until now, it's til in good shape. It's highly durable and long-lasting.
For this caramelized catfish clay pot recipe, I did not use any white sugar or brown sugar. So if you're not a big fan of these two, this recipe is for you.
Instead, I replace sugar with these two beautiful ingredients that come from two different countries: Japan and Taiwan. It's safe to say that this version of the catfish clay pot is a perfect Asian fusion dish. It includes fish sauce from Vietnam, sweet mirin from Japan, and sweet soy from Indonesia.
Sweet soy is such a fantastic ingredient that I think all of us must have it in our pantry. Sweet soy is made from palm sugar, star anise, galangal, and another Asian aromatic.
Mirin is a popular cooking ingredient in Japanese cuisine. It is made of starch syrup, sake (lower than 1%), rice, and brewed vinegar.
The combination of fish sauce, sweet mirin, and sweet soy creates a beautiful texture and taste for catfish's caramelized sauce.
Before going into the recipe, I want to clarify that although the recipe is called Catfish Clay Pot, it is okay if you cook this in any cookware. Stainless steel pot, aluminum cooking pan, or copper pot is still OK.
Other related recipes that go good with steamed rice
- Easy braised white fish
- Skillet marry me chicken
- Braised pork spare ribs
- Braised pork belly
- Soy sauce chicken thighs
Did you make this recipe? If so please leave a rating and let me know how it went in the comment section. Also, don't forget to tag me #cookmorphosis @cookmorphosis on social media.
Caramelized Catfish Clay Pot
- Clay pot OR
- Stainless steel pot
- Shallow pan for fried blanching
- Big plate lined with oil absorbed paper
- 3 piece catfish steak clean, pad dry
- 3 clove garlic minced
- 2 shallot minced
- green onion chopped, for garnish
- black pepper as needed
- steamed rice as needed
- ½ c sweet soy sauce
- ¼ c fish sauce 33N or 40N (adjust water amount below accordingly)
- ¼ c mirin
- ½ c water if using 33N fish sauce
- ¾ c water if using 40N fish sauce
For caramelized sauce:
- In a clay pot or stainless steel pot, heat one tbsp of vegetable oil, add minced garlic and shallot. Cook for 2 minutes or until garlic turn golden brown.
- Add all ingredients for caramelized sauce in. Bring to boil and reduce the heat to simmer for 10 minutes or until the mixture reduced by half.
- In a meantime, fill 2 cups of oil in a shallow pan, make sure the oil reach at least 350F. Quickly add each piece of catfish in and cook for 1 minute each side.
- Place blanched catfish on plate with oil absorbed paper to get rid of excess oil.
Cook caramelized catfish
- After the caramelized sauce is reduced by half, carefully add blanched catfish in piece by piece. Bring the heat to medium high and continue cooking.
- The sauce will form many bubbles on top of the catfish surface, this is totally normal. Just remember keep an eye on the pot. DO NOT go anywhere or multi task at this point.
- Cook for approximately 10 minutes or until the sauce reduce almost by half again. You can check the consistency of the sauce by using the back of a spoon. Dip a spoon into the sauce, if it is coated with the sauce and there is no dripping down. The sauce is done.
- Turn off the heat. Add ground black pepper and chopped green onion for garnish. Enjoy with a hot bowl of steamed rice.
I made this with catfish filets because that is all we have here. But I followed the rest as closely as I could and it was very sweet and also savory, and delicious. We had roasted broccoli to go with it and we both decided to simply eat the broccoli with the sauce, too. It was also delicious.
Thank you so much for trying the recipe. I'm so glad you liked it 🙂 and the addition of broccoli sounds really amazing, why haven't I thought of this before? Thank you for the add-on info. I love it.
This recipe is sort of silly. Their cups of water thing is goofy and they forgot the most important ingredient in their list: sugar.
You need sugar to caramelize it.
They call for shallot & garlic- which is okay but they are somewhat similar. You can use one or the other.
They also call for three cloves- my recipe calls for eight. They also forgot the ginger & salt.
Most Vietnamese restaurants I’ve eaten the dish in do not use steaks- they use fillet. The recipe also calls for blanching the fish which is totally unnecessary.
You just make a nice caramel sauce and add the fish, simmer for six to seven minutes. It’s not difficult and it doesn’t take years of training either.
You can also make this dish and use plum sauce or hoisin sauce.
I hope you've tried this recipe. I made it a lot of times without sugar and still got the caramelize effect with sweet soy sauce (not the regular soy sauce, sweet soy sauce is Indonesian cooking condiment) and mirin.
In Vietnam, we always use steaks as a traditional way to eat this dish. For Vietnamese restaurants in other countries, especially the States, sometimes we switch for fillet to adapt to the country eating culture.
And yes, you are right, you can also make this dish and use plum or hoisin sauce, though I haven't tried it, but I might agree with that. And this recipe is just one of the thousand ways to make caramelized cat fish clay pot.
Lets just try to make it with all of the ingredients above and let me know how it really goes :).