My dad had just caught the catfish the day before in Oregon before he came down to SoCal. I was all hopeful when he told lil' sis, "Ma lam ca bong lau cho con (Mom made catfish for you)." Lam could mean anything from to work, to cook, to do, to make. Unfortunately, in this case, it only meant my mom had cleaned it. :(
Darn it! I wanted some homecooking. I actually had never roasted a catfish before so I decided to use the marinade from Ca Kho To (Vietnamese Braised Fish in a Claypot), figuring that if it doesn't char properly, at least the marinade will make it taste good. And boy, did it!
I also had some scallions in the fridge that needed to be used up so I decided to make mo hanh (Vietnamese scallion oil) to pour sizzling over the top. The recipe turned out better than expected. So much so that the fish was eaten in minutes.
As my brother picked a section for his wife, he told her our mom made it. No, she didn't. I did! Mommy only cleaned it. Huh! (Actually, he said the same thing a few years back when I made Cua Rang Muoi Tieu Me Toi Gung (Vietnamese Crab Stir-Fried with Salt, Pepper, Tamarind, Garlic, and Ginger). He started talking about how mom makes a sauce from the crab butter. Nuh uh! Mommy only sent down the Dungeness crabs. I made the sauce. Huh!) Anyway, since the first batch went so well, I made it again a few weeks later when my dad came down again and brought me two catfish.
Ca Bong Lau Nuong voi Mo Hanh (Vietnamese Roasted Catfish with Scallion Oil)
For a 2 to 3 lb catfish, you'll need:
For the marinade, you'll need:
2 tblsp fish sauce
1 tblsp brown sugar
1 tblsp honey
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
3 shallots, finely minced
Mo hanh (Vietnamese scallion oil)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Clean and gut the catfish. Make cuts along the side of the fish spaced every 2 inches or so in order for the marinade to penetrate.
In a separate bowl, mix 2 tblsp fish sauce, 1 tblsp brown sugar, 1 tblsp honey, 1 tsp black pepper, 1/2 tsp salt, 3 cloves minced garlic, and 3 minced shallots. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. Then slather the marinade all over the fish, making sure to get the shallots and garlic in the cuts to soak in flavor.
Place the catfish on its side and bake in the oven for half an hour. Flip the fish so it can absorb the marinade on the other side and bake for another half an hour.
Meanwhile, make the Mo Hanh (Vietnamese Scallion Oil). You can turn the heat off and let the mo hanh rest until just before serving, then turn the heat on to high so the mixture will be sizzling when you pour it over the fish.
After baking for an hour, turn fish right side up. Broil for 5 to 10 minutes until the skin chars and crisps like so.
Here's a close-up of that tender flesh and crispy skin.
But wait! You're not done yet. It gets even better. Take the fish out of the oven. Turn the heat on to high to heat up your scallion oil again and pour piping hot sizzling mo hanh on top. And look at it now!
And another close-up of the fish.
Serve with rice or rice paper and a plate of herbs for rolling. Dip with various fish sauces, or right into the marinade. The marinade is so tasty that I like to add a spoonful of chili paste and make that into a dip.
The things I do for the blog. So after setting up that photo, I bagged the herbs and carried the ca nuong off to my youngest aunt's house for dinner where it joined the Hainanese chicken rice.
Who made my recipe for ca nuong mo hanh?
Hedgehog of Diary of a Novice Cook used trout and said, "The mo hanh (spring onion oil) makes this dish so worth-while. It feels sooo bad to see the chopped spring onions swimming in what seems like a sea of oil (I use nut oil) but boy, it tastes sooooo good."
My other Vietnamese fish recipes:
Ca Chien Sot Ca Chua (Vietnamese Fried Fish with Tomato Sauce)
Ca Hap Gung Hanh (Vietnamese Steamed Fish with Ginger and Scallions)
Ca Kho To (Vietnamese Braised Catfish in a Claypot)
Canh Chua Ca (Vietnamese Sour Fish Soup)
Cha Ca Thang Long (Vietnamese Hanoi-Style Turmeric Fish with Dill)
I'm submitting this recipe to Weekend Herb Blogging, a world-wide food blogging event created by Kalyn's Kitchen celebrating herbs, vegetables, or flowers. If you'd like to participate, see who's hosting next week. Why, the host is gonna be me! :) WHB is hosted this week by Cate of Sweetnicks.
1 year ago today, Atiso! Atiso! But I Am Speaking English!: Tra Atiso (Vietnamese Artichoke Tea) and Roasted Artichokes with Chili Aioli.