RECIPE: Catfish Spring Rolls
Cá Nướng Da Giòn is a mouthful, literally and figuratively. Vietnamese roasted catfish is a staple family meal in Vietnamese culture, and not many outside know about it. I think that’s sad. Its probably one of the best sharing meals there are, and if you’re looking for something different this Thanksgiving, this is IT. Your family dinner is going to be popping once you bring out this gigantic, roasted catfish, adorned with all the delicious fixings. Think about it for a minute; with turkey, you’re aiming for crispy skin and juicy meat. Does that ever actually happen? Sure you might get some thick, jerky style skin that you’ll lie to yourself and call ‘crispy’, and the meat is going to be dry, and you know it. Catfish is the answer. This recipe ensures crispy skin, delicate, juicy meat, and so much less hassle. Even if you decide that you’re not that adventurous with the in-laws around, this recipe is worth a try on its own, just be sure to invite a few friends over.
This recipe calls for a whole catfish (duh), so keep in mind your average grocery store may not have it, so its best to call ahead to check. If you can’t find one near you, check your nearest Asian grocery store.
Preheat your oven to 400F, in the meanwhile pat dry your catfish and place belly side down on a large baking pan.
Mix salt, garlic powder, black pepper, and white sugar together. Rub catfish with vegetable oil, and sprinkle seasoning mix liberally over the top, making sure some sticks to all parts of the fish.
Allow catfish to roast at 400F for 15 minutes, then turn oven temperature down to 300F and allow to cook through for another 40 minutes.
While catfish is roasting, prepare topping. Add remaining vegetable oil to a pan and allow to heat on medium high heat for 2 minutes. Chop green onion bunch into quarter inch slices and sauté in hot oil for one minute before removing.
Prepare vermicelli noodles according to package directions and set aside.
Prepare all side veggies, chopping lettuce to thick slices, cucumber to thin strips, and shred carrot.
Once catfish is finished, remove from oven, top with sautéed green onion and fried onion and place back into oven, under broiler setting for 5 minutes.
Boil a few cups of hot water for dipping the rice paper sheets in.
Set table with all sides, including hot water, rice paper, noodles, veggies, and fish sauce.
Impress the hell out of everyone by bringing out the entire catfish, steaming and crispy to the table.
If desired, cut straight down the center spine of the catfish, and using tongs, remove the spine (it will come out easily)
Enjoy by wetting rice paper sheet, filling with roasted catfish, extra green onion, veggies, and vermicelli, then rolling it into a neat little spring-roll
Dip into fish sauce and have your mind blown.