Recipe courtesy of
Photographer: Denny Culbert
Food Stylist: Jo Vidrine

The south isn’t the only region that loves catfish for its diversity! This traditional Vietnamese recipe packs a punch of delicious exotic herbs, spices and seasonings that will make your mouth water. Clay pots create an even cooking temperature that allows flavors to mellow and combine for exciting combinations with a depth you just can’t find in a steel pot. We recommend using catfish steaks for this recipe, but thick cut filets can be quartered if steaks are not an option.  


  • 2 pounds catfish steaks
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons lard
  • 3 garlic cloves, slivered
  • 3 scallions, cut into 1 inch lengths
  • 1-2 hot chiles, such as Thai or serrano


  • Mix the brown sugar, black pepper, molasses and fish sauce and coat the fish in it. Let this stand for 15-30 minutes.
  • In a pot just large enough to contain the fish, heat the lard over high heat and saute the garlic, chile and scallions for 1-2 minutes. Do not let them brown.
  • Add the catfish and all the marinade. Mix well, turn the heat down to medium-low, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Pour in enough water to almost cover the catfish, then turn the heat to medium-high. Cook this uncovered until the sauce reduces by half, about 10-15 minutes. Be sure to turn over the fish a couple times so both sides get coated by the sauce.
  • Turn out the fish into a bowl, and serve with white rice. Have a bowl on the table for everyone’s fish bones.

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