Ca nuong Vietnamese roasted catfish recipe

From The Ravenous Couple

Ca nuong da don with hanh mo (scallion oil) was a grand surprise for our guests at our Foodbuzz 24 x 24 Spring Roll Party. Talk about a show stopper, a whole golden brown crispy catfish will surely grab everyone’s attention. We love the crispy skin and the moist meat inside marinated in a sea of ginger, shallots, garlic, and lemongrass. Top it off with a fragant hanh mo (scallion oil) and roasted peanuts you have an amazing presentation at the table. For a couple of the Thanksgivings, we even had whole roasted catfish instead of turkey.

Ca nuong Vietnamese roasted catfish

Ca nuong Vietnamese roasted catfish. Photo from The Ravenous Couple.

The hardest part of this dish is cleaning the fish.  Fresh, live catfish is best because it has a fatty layer of skin that can stand up high temperature roasting.  If you don’t have access to live catfish, then previous frozen catfish will also work. Other fatty and meaty fishes such as salmon would also work great.  The catfish has a black outer layer of skin that needs to be cleaned off for best results–if you leave it on, you get a black roasted fish and the beautiful golden color just won’t show. Plus it’s a little more fishy smelling with the black skin on.

We’re fortunate that most of the markets in Little Saigon does this free of charge–just tell them to make the skin white and clean and butterfly the belly.  But if you don’t have the luxury, you can attempt to clean it at home–we’ve never done it ourselves but this is what the fish monger at the market does:  dip the catfish in boiling water for about 1 minute. Using a brillo pad, scrub off the black layer of the catfish.  When doing this, it’s helpful to have some good gloves to grip the fish.  Also, cut the fins and slit the belly and de gut it and butterfly it.  Yes, not terribly fun tasks but end result is worth it–at least, we hope to convince you it is.

The crispy skin is what our guests fight over. So to achieve this, you need to do three things–make vertical incisions about an inch or two apart just barely through the skin along the both sides of the fish–this relieves the tension on the skin when you roast–if you don’t do this, the skin will tear and rip.  The other key step is to use lots of honey.  Lather and bath the fish with lots of it to making the skin crispy and golden brown.  Finally, use a good nonstick roasting rack so that the fish is not swimming in it’s fatty juices.

The hardest part of making Vietnamese roasted catfish is prepping the fish, but once that’s done, it’s just a matter of marinading and following our simple tricks to make the skin crispy and meat moist. It’s not often we guarantee anything, but we guarantee you’ll impress your friends and family with ca nuong hanh mo and the end result will be quite similar to ours….

In case we don’t post again this week we want to wish all the fathers and father figures a Happy Father’s day–especially to our dads–our role models and heroes.


Báo Người Việt hoan nghênh quý vị độc giả đóng góp và trao đổi ý kiến. Chúng tôi xin quý vị theo một số quy tắc sau đây:

Tôn trọng sự thật.
Tôn trọng các quan điểm bất đồng.
Dùng ngôn ngữ lễ độ, tương kính.
Không cổ võ độc tài phản dân chủ.
Không cổ động bạo lực và óc kỳ thị.
Không vi phạm đời tư, không mạ lỵ cá nhân cũng như tập thể.

Tòa soạn sẽ từ chối đăng tải các ý kiến không theo những quy tắc trên.

Xin quý vị dùng chữ Việt có đánh dấu đầy đủ. Những thư viết không dấu có thể bị từ chối vì dễ gây hiểu lầm cho người đọc. Tòa soạn có thể hiệu đính lời văn nhưng không thay đổi ý kiến của độc giả, và sẽ không đăng các bức thư chỉ lập lại ý kiến đã nhiều người viết. Việc đăng tải các bức thư không có nghĩa báo Người Việt đồng ý với tác giả.

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