This dish was set off on the recommendation of a fellow food blogger The Kitchen Masochist. I would enthusiastically advise you to check out her fun, imaginative and enlightening blog at http://kitchen-masochist.blogspot.com/. Eco-friendly sustainable American farm-raised catfish is center stage again. Only now with a Thailand twist. The Kitchen Masochist was kind enough to supply me with a recipe for a traditional Thai Salad called Yum Pla Dook Foo.
Cooking is not a recipe; it’s a philosophy. Recipes are guides. Creativity in the kitchen is like air in the lungs. Explore your artistic side and truthfully express thyself. This interpretation is my twist on the Thai classic.
When conceptualizing this dish I wanted to keep the unique flavor profile intact. Job done! The “salad” portion of the traditional dish is shaved green mango. Florida mango production starts in May. I am not proud of the fact that for the purposes of creating this particular recipe I purchased a mango today. Product of Nicaragua. I am a strident supporter of using local seasonal produce. Nevertheless...today I made an exception.
The cooking of the catfish is involved but gratifying. Baking the fish in the oven first makes it easy to flake. When it comes time to fry the catfish, the oil better be screaming hot. The final texture is so crispy on the palate that it's like eating catfish croutons.
Curly endive or Frisee is a wonderful bitter green to use. In this case it perfectly complimented the sweet mango. The harmony between sweet and sour is found throughout Thai cooking. My final curtain call for the salad was a drizzle of an incredible Thai peanut sauce.
Thanks again to the Kitchen Masochist.
I hope you enjoy this wonderful salad…I know I did!
Catfish & Mango Salad
For the Catfish:
2 – 8oz farm-raised catfish fillets
Spice Blend (equal parts of each)
1. Bake the fish in a oven at 300 F for 12 minutes
2. Remove fish from oven. Place on a large platter
3. Heat 3 inches of canola oil in a deep pot to 360 F
4. With a fork gently flake the fish.
5. Drain the fish of its juices
6. Sprinkle with Wondra flour. Enough to coat the pieces of fish
7. Shake off excess
8. Prepare a plate lined with paper towels
9. Fry the fish till golden brown. (Do not overcook) Black no good.
10. Remove to drain on paper towels.
11. Sprinkle with spice blend while hot
For the Salad:
3 Bird’s eye chilies (minced)
1 tsp sugar
2 tbs fish sauce
1 lime (juiced)
¼ cup cashews (roasted)
2 Asian shallots (thinly sliced)
½ cup mango (diced)
Thai Peanut sauce
1. Combine in a non-reactive bowl the sugar, chilies, fish sauce, lime juice
2. Center the diced mango on the palate
3. Artistically place the Frisee – (your choice)
4. Dress the salad with the lime chili mixture
5. Top with the catfish
6. Sprinkle the shallots and cashews
7. Drizzle peanut sauce around the plate
Thai Peanut Sauce:
4 tsp corn oil
½ cup minced red onion
2 tbs minced garlic
½ tsp hot chili pepper
2 tbs sugar
2 tbs vinegar
1/3 cup peanut butter
1 cup water
1. In a blender, combine oil, garlic, red onion, and hot chili peppers. Blend for 60 seconds.
2. Heat the mixture in a saucepan over low heat until fragrant.
3. Add the peanut butter. Mix well over low heat.
4. Add the water. Simmer for 10 minutes till thickened
5. Stir in the vinegar and sugar. Simmer for 2 minutes. Taste check for sour & sweet balance, add more vinegar or sugar as needed.
That’s it for now…till we exchange a few words again…Peace!