I’ll be honest, I’m playing major catch-up after a line of storms moved through and caused everyone to lose their minds around here. I’m pretty sure we’ve determined no one, including myself, could survive a zombie apocalypse. Or a normal apocalypse.
Anyway, so my last post when I mentioned a fondness for Asian-inspired meals? Yeah, still going strong with that theme. I ran across this recipe on one of my favorite foodie sites, Food52. Now, I did tweak the recipe a bit based solely on my laziness and general unwillingness to venture out and purchase listed ingredients. For example, I omitted the yogurt sauce entirely. But the end result was still pretty fantastic. It’s the perfect meal for those sweltering summer days: light, super flavorful, and easy to throw together.
I operate by planning out a week’s worth of meals, so I already had catfish in the fridge from my previous day’s outing to our local fishmongers. Everything else was sourced from the farmer’s market. Again, the goal here isn’t to harp on how great I think local foods are–it’s to get folks back in the kitchen for a bit using whole ingredients, even it it’s just for one or two meals out of the week. If it makes you feel better, I do cheat sometimes. The sesame seeds? Came from Kroger. The stir fry noodles? Boxed up and sold by the Thai Kitchen brand. However, because the ingredients are whole (literally two ingredients for the noodles: rice and water) and few in number, I justify cheating once in a while.
While this recipe yields plenty of food on its own, I added grilled peaches. And that is just the way it sounds: remove the peach skin and pit and grill over medium heat for about 4 minutes on each side. Drizzle with a little honey when ready to serve.
Vietnamese-Inspired Catfish with Pickled Veggies (my take; feel free to go with the Food52 recipe instead)
3 Tbsp. honey
3 Tbsp. soy sauce (I like a thinner marinade; if you want it thicker, use less soy sauce)
1/2 Tbsp. sesame oil (don’t omit this; it doesn’t sound like much, but it’s key to the overall flavor)
2 Tbsp. onion, minced (I ran out of scallions; minced onions worked just as well here)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1.5 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger
1 Tbsp. sesame seeds (the original recipe calls for black, but I just used regular sesame seeds, untoasted, because I kinda forgot that step)
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 pound catfish (you can always adjust the marinade amounts based on the amount of fish you have, which is the beautiful thing about marinades)
Whisk together all of the ingredients listed above (except, obviously, the fish). Place the catfish in a Ziploc bag, pour in the marinade, and place back in the fridge. Let sit up to 2 hours. In the meantime, make the quick-pickled vegetables (below).
Note: I used carrots, sliced red onions, and thinly sliced cucumbers for this. But you could easily use any veggies you have in the house (tomatoes, zucchini/squash, even corn). I would recommend using cucumbers with whatever you have available, though–they really add a great taste and texture to this dish. I didn’t include the amount of veggies I used, because when it comes to a pickled side like this, you can make as much or as little as you like (just make sure the pickling brine covers the veggies). I will say, the pickled veggies really made this for me, so the more the merrier in this case.
1/4 c. apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp. honey (again, if you want a sweeter pickled base, just add more honey)
5-6 dashes hot sauce
1 tsp. salt
Carrots, cut lengthwise into matchsticks
Red onion, sliced thin
Cucumber, sliced thin
Whisk together the vinegar, honey, hot sauce, and salt. Pour over the veggies (make sure it covers them) and let soak in the fridge for up to 2 hours. (I admit I did this during my lunch break, so the veggies sat in the brine for closer to 5 hours. However, the vegetables remained crisp, which is key to providing a textural balance to the soft, flaky catfish and noodles).
When the veggies and catfish are done soaking/marinading, heat up the oven broiler (on high) and grab your box of stir-fry noodles. Really, just follow the instructions on the box at this point. While the noodles are soaking, pull out the catfish (just toss any extra marinade) and place on a foil-lined baking sheet brushed with a bit of olive oil. When the noodles are ready to hit the saute pan, pop the catfish in the oven and let broil for about 8-10 minutes (or until the fish flakes easily with a fork). In the meantime, stir-fry your noodles (I like to use a bit of sesame oil when doing this and add salt to taste at the end) and pull the pickling veggies out of the fridge, drain, and set aside. When the catfish is done, you’re ready to plate. Just pile on the noodles, place the catfish over the noodles, and top it all with a heaping serving of the pickled veggies.
Had we not lost electricity and been forced to clean out the fridge, this would have been a good, cold leftover meal the next day. As it was, I had to say a bitter farewell, which was a shame because I was really looking forward to eating this again.