Clay Pot Catfish with Pickled Carrots and Cucumbers

Clay Pot Catfish with Pickled Carrots and Cucumbers
Tara Donne


For the pickled carrots and cucumbers

  • small carrots, sliced thinly
  • small cucumbers, sliced thinly into rounds
  • 1/2 Cup  rice vinegar
  • 6 Tablespoons  sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons  kosher salt

For the fish

  • 1/4 Cup  canola oil
  • small shallots, sliced
  • cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Teaspoon  cayenne
  •   Four 1- to 1 1/2-inch-thick skinless catfish steaks
  • 1/4 Cup  sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons  plus 1/2 cup water
  • 2 Tablespoons  fish sauce
  • 3 Cups  steamed jasmine rice
  • scallions, sliced thinly
  •   Cilantro sprigs, for garnish
  •   Lemon wedges, for serving

Here it is, the recipe everyone has been waiting for from season three. Catfish is such a humble fish, a bottom-feeder that can taste muddy if not cooked properly. Christine Ha didn't try to gussy it up with a four-star presentation. Instead, she gently brought out the best in it.

She dressed it with some potent Asian flavors — garlic, fish sauce, scallions, and cilantro — and, the magic touch, a little dark caramel that she poured over the fish before braising it in its modest clay pot. This classic technique in Vietnamese cooking brings out the best in a meaty slab of catfish. (If your fishmonger doesn’t have these thicker catfish "steaks," ask for fillets instead.) And her presentation, on a fragrant heap of jasmine rice, with a mound of tangy quick-pickled vegetables, hit all the right notes.

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For the pickled carrots and cucumbers

Toss the carrots, cucumbers, vinegar, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate.

For the fish

Heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and garlic and sauté just until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the cayenne. Add the catfish and cook until they are golden brown on both sides but still raw in the center.

Transfer the catfish to a clay pot. Be sure your clay pot is approved for stovetop cooking. Pour off the oil from the pan and spoon the shallots and garlic over the fish in the pot.

Stir the sugar and 2 tablespoons of the water in a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Brush down the sides of the pan with a very wet pastry brush to remove any sugar granules. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook, swirling the pan constantly but not stirring the sugar mixture, until the sugar dissolves and becomes golden brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in the remaining water.

Pour the caramel sauce over the fish in the pot. Add the fish sauce and put the pot over very low heat. Simmer, uncovered, until reduced by about ½, about 15 minutes.

Mound the steamed rice in 4 wide bowls. Set the catfish steaks on top of the rice and spoon the sauce over the fish. Set the bowls on a large plate. Mound the pickled carrots and cucumbers on the plate. Sprinkle the scallions over the fish and pickles, and garnish with the cilantro, to taste. Serve immediately with lemon wedges.


Calories per serving:

1,490 calories

Dietary restrictions:

Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Wheat Free, Egg Free, Milk Free, Peanut Free, Tree Nut Free, Soy Free, Shellfish Free, Alcohol Free

Daily value:



  • Fat 348g 535%
  • Carbs 302g 101%
  • Saturated 126g 632%
  • Fiber 19g 76%
  • Trans 17g
  • Sugars 147g
  • Monounsaturated 169g
  • Polyunsaturated 31g
  • Protein 386g 771%
  • Cholesterol 1,123mg 374%
  • Sodium 17,544mg 731%
  • Calcium 631mg 63%
  • Magnesium 584mg 146%
  • Potassium 5,766mg 165%
  • Iron 36mg 198%
  • Zinc 65mg 435%
  • Phosphorus 3,840mg 549%
  • Vitamin A 979µg 109%
  • Vitamin C 31mg 52%
  • Thiamin (B1) 2mg 111%
  • Riboflavin (B2) 4mg 233%
  • Niacin (B3) 105mg 526%
  • Vitamin B6 12mg 599%
  • Folic Acid (B9) 225µg 56%
  • Vitamin B12 30µg 504%
  • Vitamin D 2µg 0%
  • Vitamin E 17mg 85%
  • Vitamin K 207µg 259%
Have a question about nutritional data? Let us know.
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