Thursday, February 23, 2012

Ginger Catfish (Trey Cha K'nyei)

Somehow we are on a Cambodian kick, which is a little strange considering I don't think we have ever cooked Cambodian before and I went on this whole tangent in my last post about how Cambodian food didn't make an impression on me while I was there.  And here we are, making two Cambodian dishes in a row.  Random, huh?  Anyway, I know I have said this before but catfish and/or basa are not among my favorite fish options.  I tend to find catfish/basa to be bordering on fishy with a strange mushy texture and a muddy flavor.  But every once in awhile I have a catfish dish that surprises me by how tasty it is.  This was one of them.  Another is the Crispy Basa (Catfish) with Onions and Coriander.  I guess I only like Asian catfish dishes?  Anyway, I was surprised by how tasty this dish was.  I actually liked it better than the Quick Khmer Pork with Green Beans, which also surprised me.  The onions were delicious and the fish was really tasty.  The crispy ginger is really nice too, but I could see how some people would be turned off by that amount of ginger.  This quantity of ginger is powerfully warm and spicy.  If you want to cut it back a little so that the ginger perfumes the dish, rather than permeating the dish, go right ahead.  We used slightly less than the recipe called for (mostly because we got lazy with the julienning).  For what it was, I can't think of anything I would change in this dish.  And Alex agrees.  This isn't one of those dishes that you will dream about for years to come because it was so amazing, but it is exactly what it is meant to be - a simple, flavorful stir-fry.  And I really appreciate that from time to time.

Recipe after the jump!

Ginger Catfish (Trey Cha K'Nyei)
The Elephant Walk Cookbook
By Longteine de Monteiro and Katherine Neustadt
Available on Epicurious

5 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cups peeled, julienned ginger (about 1/2 pound)
1 1/2 pounds catfish fillets (we used basa instead), sliced crosswise into 1/4-inch-wide strips
3 1/2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons mushroom soy sauce
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1 large Spanish onion, thinly sliced
1/4 red bell pepper, julienned
1/2 bunch scallions, cut diagonally into 2-inch pieces

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the ginger and cook, stirring, until brown and crisp, about 7 minutes. Add the fish, stir gently until thoroughly mixed with the ginger and cook for about 3 minutes. Add the sugar, soy sauce, fish sauce and salt and stir well. Stir in the onion and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes. Add the red pepper and scallions and cook for another 2 minutes, then serve.

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