Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Sustainable Eco-Friendly Catfish Redux: Thai Style

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 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. 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
Wondra flour

Spice Blend (equal parts of each)
Smoked Paprika
Sea salt

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)
Frisee greens
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!


  1. Wow - looks so pretty and festive! Love the dish and the presentation. And I agree, cooking is art :-)

  2. Enlightening blog? You're too kind. Thank you for your such kind words.

    Nice interpretation. Very creative! catfish croutons- I like that!

    I love the way you plated the dish. The frisee makes it look like a wreath.

    Question: Ripe yellow mangos generally contain more juice than green ones, it didn't affect the crunchiness of your catfish croutons?

  3. Cooking Rookie...Thank you for the kind words. Cooking is truly art, undoubtably. Take care.

  4. Kitchen Masochist...You do have a great blog. The crunchiness is not affected because the dish was eaten quickly. If you let it sit'd probably have a problem with that. Thank you again for sending over the idea and for your friendship.

  5. That is definitely my kind of dish, flavorful yet light! lovely presentation!

  6. I think fish and mango is the best combination.Nice presentation!

  7. This is really an interesting recipe. I love the play of flavors in the dish. I found your blog by chance but will be back often. Have a great day. Blessings...Mary

  8. "Cooking is not a recipe; it’s a philosophy." I love that. Beautiful picture. I want to try the dressing soon!

  9. Silvia...Thank you...that is high praise coming from someone who produces the kind of food you do.

  10. shahana...Thank you for stopping by and commenting. Much appreciated.

  11. Mary...Thank you. I appreciate you finding us and commenting. I hope you do come back and join us. Be well.

  12. Kenzie...That is my motto. Words I live by.

  13. Excellent combination of flavours.
    What a great round up.
    Thanks for your visit x

  14. YUM! I have to admit, I've never worked with catfish before. But this may be where I start. I love the flavors you use! Nice work!

  15. hey lararo!!

    Here to drop by again ;) hehe. to tell you I won't be around for 1.5months to reply your comments because I'll be going to china for vacation. WOOHOO! but do check out my blog when you have time. i have schedule posts every other day to entertain you guys ;) please take care !!

    Jen from

  16. Holly...Give it a go. Farmed-raised catfish is wonderfuly flavored and eco-friendly. Thank you for the kind words.

  17. I love the Thai flavors in this. It's so fresh, spicy and vibrant. It's just the type of food I'm craving as the weather is getting warmer.

  18. Cinnamon-Girl...Thank you for the kind words. Give it a go. I think you'll like it.

  19. Thanks so much for stopping by my blog! This dish looks beautiful!

  20. I LOVE Thai-style salads, very light yet with such complex flavors!

  21. Christina...Thank you for stopping by. Look forward to more of your posts.

  22. The Recipe Diva...This is a wonderful salad with bold flavors. Thank you for your feedback.

  23. I completely agree with the "cooking is not a recipe, it's a philosophy.". Such a nice looking dish! Yum!

  24. Mmmm looks GOOD. I hear you about buying out of season produce. Everything is out of season in Alaska :D

  25. theUngourmet...Words to live by in the kitchen. Thank you for stopping by.

  26. Laura...Thank you for the comment. In Alaska in must be very difficult. However, not in Florida. It's just not something I like to do.

  27. An unusual salad, richly textured and beautifully presented. I've eaten a lot of Thai but never this. Definitely an involved recipe but one well worth attempting, or maybe I'll just look for it on the menu, next time I'm in a Thai restaurant!

  28. Denise...Thank you. It is a wonderful salad. Remember this is my take on it. I'd imagine you would have the traditional version at a Thai restaurant.

  29. I just started to eat fish, and this reciope makes me try it right now! Looks so appetizing and yumm

  30. Mmmmm wow this looks delicious yum yum!!

  31. Ann...This is a good fish to ease you in. Firm flesh and fishy at all. Thank you for your comment.

  32. Natalie...Thank you for stopping by and for commenting.

  33. Catherine...Thank you very much!

  34. Lazaro, this looks so delicious! I can't wait to try this. I love tilapia.

  35. Kathleen...Thank you for the kind comment. Farm-raised Tilapia is another wonderful sustainable fish. Hope you enjoy it.

  36. thanks for stopping by my blog! your stuff looks amazing. can't wait to check out your recipes.

  37. Christina...With pleasure. I Look forward to more posts from you. Be well.

  38. Hi...this is very interesting dish and you have decorated it so well, thanks for the visit ya....

  39. TREAT AND TRICK...Thank you for stoppin by and commenting.

  40. Wow, this is a perfect spring-summer dish! I love the pairing with the mango salad and peanut sauce.

  41. Christina...Thanks you. It's great after a long run.

  42. omg this looks just all the flavor


  43. Kitchen like life has practically no recipes, just guidelines and experiments.
    Lovely dish with a so beautiful presentation :)

    Have a great weekend,


  44. Gera @ SweetsFoodsBlog...100% agree. Kitchen life is creation and experimentation. Thank you for stopping by. Have a wonderful night.

  45. Oh this looks delightful! I can't wait to give it a go. And congrats on your article in the paper! So exciting.

    Alex aka Ma What's For Dinner

  46. Alex...Thank you for the kind words and support.

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