We recently wanted to fry some catfish and make our own sweet Thai chili sauce, based on a calamari appetizer we tried at Ruth’s Chris Steak House last Friday. Mr. Cheese and I strolled the seafood section at the local grocer’s and were told by our favorite clerk there, Brandon, that the last four orders of catfish have gone unanswered by their vendor. Being the savvy salesman Brandon is, he quickly pointed out a fish we’d never heard of before. Behold, the Basa. apparently, it is a type of catfish that are native to Vietnam and Thailand. I was a little skeptical at first, but Mr. Cheese convinced me that if it went wrong, we could order pizza. Good plan, Maestro!
The next night as I set out to make the chili sauce, I realized I didn’t buy the chili peppers. We have some chili sauce in the pantry, so we decided to steer this recipe toward the amateur cook and just roll with the stuff already prepared.
Once we fried the fish up, drizzled it with chili sauce and garnished it with a few chopped, marinated red peppers, it was all we could do to not eat the prepared portions while the rest of the fish cooked. The Basa was light but held firm in its flavor, without tasting fishy. It was reminiscent of catfish but meatier. I almost want to say more substantial. The crust, then flavor of the Basa both go remarkably well with the sweetness of the sauce and peppers. I had to stop myself from eating the big pieces of fish with my fingers & dipping it in the sauce, as if they were chicken tenders. Over all, this is a sweet, spicy and very satisfying dish!!
Fried Basa with Red Peppers & Thai Chili Sauce
- 2 pounds Basa (catfish will work, as well)
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil, for frying
- 1 cup seasoned flour (we used Zatarain’s New Orleans Seasoned Fish Fry)
- Thai chili sauce (we used this one)
- Marinated red peppers, to garnish
How to Make It!
Rinse the fish off with cold water and pat dry with paper towels. In a bowl big enough to dip the fish in, mix the eggs and lemon juice and set aside. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. To test for readiness, put a drop of water on your finger and shake it into the oil. When it makes a sound and bubbles up, the oil is hot enough to put the fish in.
Coat the fish in the egg and lemon juice mixture and shake off excess. Put the seasoned flour in a large freezer bag, then put the coated fish into the freezer bag. Seal the bag and shake around enough to completely coat the fish. Take the fish out and shake off the excess coating, then carefully place the fish into the prepared oil. It should immediately begin to bubble a bit.
Allow the fish to fry for 8-10 minutes on each side, or until the fish flakes when prompted, with a spatula. If you need to add oil to the pan midway through cooking, pull the pan off the heat when you add the oil, then allow it back on the stove to become warm enough to continue cooking. Do not add cold oil to the pan while fish is already in it. This will produce an oily, soggy dinner.
Once the fish is cooked, remove from the pan and set on paper towels to remove a bit of excess oil. Plate and drizzle with Thai chili sauce and garnish with marinated red peppers. Serves 6 to 8