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Crispy Catfish Curry - {Pla Duk Tod Krob Phat Phed}


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  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Essence (see Bayou Blast recipe)
  • 1 1/2 pounds catfish fillets
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil plus
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 cup chopped yellow bell pepper
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons Red Curry Paste - (to 3) listed below
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 cups shrimp or chicken stock
  • 1 cup drained canned bamboo shoot strips
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/2 cup julienned fresh Thai basil (if unavailable use Italian basil)
  • 20 red chiles - (to 30) to taste (such as Thai chiles)
  • 3/4 cup chopped shallots
  • 1/4 cup chopped peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon whole coriander seeds
  • 1/4 cup chopped garlic
  • 2 large stalks lemongrass tough outer leaves
  • discarded, finely sliced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 tablespoon shrimp paste plus
  • 1 teaspoon shrimp paste
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons lime zest
  • Salt to taste (depending upon saltiness of shrimp paste)
  • 2 cups jasmine rice (other long-grain white rice can be substituted)
  • 3 cups water


Servings 4


Step 1

Preheat oven to 200 degrees.

In a shallow bowl, combine the flour and 1/2 teaspoon Essence. Season the fish on both sides with the remaining teaspoon Essence.

In a large, heavy skillet, heat 1/2 cup of the vegetable oil to 360 degrees.

Dredge 2 of the fillets in the flour, coating evenly and shake to remove excess flour. Fry the fillets until golden brown, about 4 minutes on each side. Remove with a slotted spatula and drain on paper towels. Repeat with the remaining fish.

Keep the fish warm in the oven while preparing the curry.

To prepare the curry heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a wok over medium-high heat. Add the bell peppers and cook, stirring, until soft, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the curry paste and soy sauce and stir to combine. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the bamboo shoots and stir to combine. Add the fried fish and cook until fish is heated through, about 1 minute. Season, to taste, with salt. Remove from the heat. Stir in the basil and serve with the Steamed Jasmine Rice.

For the Red Curry Paste: Stem the chiles, and depending upon taste, keep or discard all or a portion of the seeds (which will make the paste hotter). Place in a bowl and add enough warm water to cover. Soak for 30 minutes. Drain, reserving the water.

Heat a small skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the shallots, ginger, and coriander seed and cook, stirring constantly, until aromatic, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Remove from the heat.

Combine all the ingredients in a blender or food processor. Process into a moist paste, stopping frequently and scraping down the sides, and adding 1 tablespoon of the chili soaking liquid or extra oil as necessary to make moist. Adjust seasoning, to taste.

Place in an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use. Paste can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 month or in the freezer for up to 3 months. (Makes about 1 1/4 cups)

For the Steamed Jasmine Rice: In a 2-quart saucepan, combine the rice and water and bring to a boil. Cover tightly, reduce the heat to low, and cook undisturbed until the water is absorbed, 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and let sit undisturbed for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork before serving.

This recipe yields 4 to 6 servings.

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