This easy braised fish recipe is perfect for your budget-friendly weekly meal and fish dinner idea. Marinated and cooked in a delicious fish sauce mixture, these fish are super soft and almost fall apart while maintaining their juiciness.
The best braised fish recipe
If you're looking for a quick and easy braised fish recipe to spice up any fish steak, I got a perfect one for you. This easy Vietnamese-style braised catfish results in super soft and tender fish steaks that almost fall apart but still maintain their moisture and tastiness.
Using the classic Vietnamese way that not many home cooks know of, this recipe is not only the best but is one-of-a-kind: an extra pork fat is used to add more moisture and help prevent the fish steaks from falling apart.
It's an easy and budget-friendly meal that everyone will enjoy. The recipe is best served with a hot bowl of steamed rice.
Why you'll love this recipe
- Quick: these fish steaks will be ready in under 45 minutes.
- Hassle-free cleaning: only one cooking pan and one mixing bowl are needed for this recipe; thus, you don't have to spend hours cleaning up.
- Flavorful: the fish sauce mixture marinade infuses so much flavor into the fish. It's a delicious and one-of-a-kind flavor.
- All you can serve: just one pan of this braised fish and a pot of steamed rice can feed the whole family; you don't need to cook another meal. An ideal recipe for a busy mom (and dad too).
- Budget-friendly: you don't need to spend much money to have such an amazing meal. This easy braised white fish recipe costs just a little but brings so many flavors in return.
How to make this recipe
Here is an overview of this easy braised fish recipe, be sure to check out the recipe card for full instructions:
- Marinade fish steaks: Mix fish steaks and all marinade ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
- Pan fry pork fat: In a cooking pan, add a little bit of oil to pan fry pork belly until they turn golden brown.
- Cook fish steaks: Add fish steaks and put them on top of pork fat and cook each side for 2-3 minutes.
- Turn the fish: when turning the fish, make sure to keep most of the pork fat on the bottom of the pan. Since fish steaks don't like directly on the pan, they won't break easily during the braising process.
- Deglaze: After cooking two sides of fish steaks, add all marinade liquid to the pan to deglaze it.
- Braise fish: Add enough water to cover all fish steaks, and bring the pan to boiling point on medium-high heat.
- Simmer fish: Lower the heat to medium and simmer, uncover, for 30 minutes or until the liquid is reduced by more than half.
The pork fat helps produce enough moisture for the fish and gives the finishing braised fish an excellent flavor. Also, pork fat plays a role as a layer between the pan and fish steaks that help distribute even cooking temperature around them.
Yes, you can if you're using fish steaks that have a lot of fat intact (such as some types of catfish and salmons). Remember that omitting pork fat might cause the finishing dish to dry out after a long time of cooking.
Only turn the fish steaks once and use a flat spatula. Don't turn them for the rest of the cooking process. The pork fat on the bottom of the pan helps elevate them to distribute an even cooking temperature, so there is no need to worry about turning them.
You can keep this braised fish in an airtight container in a refrigerator for up to 2 days and a freezer for up to a month.
Sometimes people will be confused between this recipe and the famous caramelized catfish clay pot. They both look amazing and undeniably delicious, but this recipe has more sauce at the end of the cooking process. In contrast, the other recipe yields less sauce and a much more gloriously sticky texture.
Recipe tips and notes
- Use fish that has extra fat like catfish or salmon for this recipe.
- Cooking time for fish steaks may be need to increase or decrease slightly if the steaks are thinner or thicker.
- This braised fish is best to serve when it is hot or at least warm over a hot bowl of steamed rice.
- Finish this dish with fried garlic and extra amount of ground black pepper to give it a kick of spice.
Easy Braised Fish Recipe (Vietnamese-style)
- 1.5 lb fish steaks about 4 steaks with 2 inches of thickness, prefer catfish
- ⅓ c pork fat cut in small cubes
- 1 tbsp green onion chopped
- 1 tsp fried garlic
- ground black pepper as needed
- In a large mixing bowl, combine fish steaks and marinade ingredients. Mix everything and set it aside for later use.1.5 lb fish steaks, 2 medium shallots, ¼ c fish sauce, 3 tsp light brown sugar, ¼ tsp black pepper, ¼ tsp paprika, 2 medium Thai chilies
- Add a small amount of vegetable oil (about 1tsp) and pork fat to a cooking pan. Pan fry pork fat on medium-high heat until they turn golden brown, approximately 3-4 minutes.⅓ c pork fat
- Then add only fish steaks to the pan and put them on top of pork fat. Cook for 2 minutes. Save the marinade for later.
- Turn fish steaks and cook the other side for another 2 minutes. Both sides should be golden brown by now.
- Add the rest of the marinade liquid to deglaze the pan, followed by enough water (about 2 cups) to cover the fish steaks completely.
- Turn the heat to medium-high to bring the pan to boiling point, about 2 minutes.
- Then immediately lower the heat back to medium and simmer the fish steaks. Braised catfish should be done after 30 minutes of slow-cooking: the liquid should be reduced by more than half, and fish steaks are super tender and almost fall apart if touched.
- Garnish with green onion, fried garlic, and black pepper. Served immediately with a hot bowl of steamed rice.1 tbsp green onion, 1 tsp fried garlic, ground black pepper
- Don't stir or turn the fish too much: to keep fish steaks intact during the braising process, it is best to only turn them once with a flat spatula.