How to Make Ca Nuong – The Ultimate Vietnamese Roasted Catfish Recipe

Hello, Good News! Welcome to another delicious article where I share with you the secrets of making ca nuong, the ultimate Vietnamese roasted catfish recipe. If you love fish, you will love this dish. It’s crispy, tender, flavorful, and easy to make. You can serve it with rice paper, fresh herbs, vegetables, and various dipping sauces for a satisfying and fun meal.

Ca nuong is a popular dish in Vietnam, especially in the southern region. It is made by marinating a whole catfish with garlic, salt, pepper, honey, and butter, then roasting it in the oven until the skin is golden and crispy. The fish is then topped with scallions, fried shallots, peanuts, and cilantro, and served with lime wedges. The meat is moist and flaky, and the skin is crunchy and savory. It’s a feast for the eyes and the mouth.

What You Need to Make Ca Nuong

The Catfish

The main ingredient for ca nuong is obviously the catfish. You want to choose a fresh and firm catfish that weighs about 3 pounds. You can ask your fishmonger to clean and butterfly the catfish for you, or you can do it yourself at home. To butterfly the catfish, you need to cut off the head, remove the guts, scale the skin, and cut along the backbone to open up the fish like a book. You can also score the flesh with a knife to help the marinade penetrate better.

Some people like to remove the skin of the catfish before roasting it, but I prefer to keep it on. The skin adds extra flavor and texture to the dish, and it also protects the meat from drying out in the oven. Plus, it’s easier to peel off the skin after cooking if you don’t want to eat it.

The Marinade

The marinade for ca nuong is simple but effective. It consists of garlic, salt, pepper, honey, and butter. The garlic adds a pungent aroma and flavor to the fish, while the salt and pepper season it well. The honey adds a touch of sweetness and helps caramelize the skin in the oven. The butter adds richness and moisture to the fish, and also helps brown the skin.

To make the marinade, you just need to combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and mix well. Then rub it all over the catfish, making sure to coat both sides evenly. You can also stuff some of the marinade inside the cavity of the fish for extra flavor. Let the fish marinate for at least 15 minutes at room temperature or up to an hour in the fridge.

The Toppings

The toppings for ca nuong are what make this dish stand out from other roasted fish dishes. They add color, texture, freshness, and flavor to every bite. The toppings include scallions, fried shallots, peanuts, and cilantro.

To prepare the toppings, you need to chop the scallions and cilantro finely, fry some shallots until golden and crispy (or use store-bought ones), and crush some roasted peanuts coarsely (or use chopped ones). You also need to make a simple scallion oil by microwaving some vegetable oil with salt and scallions until hot and fragrant. This oil will be drizzled over the fish before serving.

How to Roast Ca Nuong in the Oven

Step 1: Preheat the Oven

The first step to roast ca nuong in the oven is to preheat it to 400°F (200°C). This temperature is high enough to cook the fish quickly and evenly without drying it out. It also helps create a crispy and golden skin on the outside.

Step 2: Line a Baking Sheet with Aluminum Foil

The next step is to line a baking sheet with two layers of aluminum foil. This will prevent the fish from sticking to the pan and make cleanup easier later. You can also spray some cooking oil on top of the foil for extra non-stickiness.

Step 3: Place the Catfish on Top of the Foil

Then place the marinated catfish on top of the foil-lined baking sheet. Make sure to spread it open as much as possible so that it cooks evenly. You can also tuck some onion slices and ginger slices under and inside the fish for extra flavor.

Step 4: Roast for 25 Minutes

Now pop the baking sheet into the preheated oven and roast for 25 minutes, or until the fish is cooked through and the skin is golden and crispy. You can check the doneness of the fish by inserting a fork into the thickest part of the flesh. If it flakes easily, it’s done. You can also use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the fish. It should be at least 145°F (63°C).

Step 5: Broil for 5 Minutes

For extra crispiness, you can broil the fish for 5 minutes after roasting it. This will help char the skin and create a nice contrast with the tender meat. To broil the fish, you need to move the oven rack to the highest position and turn on the broiler function of your oven. Then watch the fish carefully and rotate the baking sheet as needed to prevent burning.

Step 6: Top with Scallion Oil and Other Toppings

The final step is to top the roasted catfish with scallion oil and other toppings. Drizzle some of the scallion oil over the fish, then sprinkle some fried shallots, crushed peanuts, and cilantro on top. You can also squeeze some lime juice over the fish for a burst of acidity.

A Table Breakdown of Ca Nuong Recipe

To help you visualize the ingredients and steps of making ca nuong, I have created a table breakdown of the recipe below. You can use this table as a reference or a checklist when you make this dish at home.

Ingredient Amount Preparation Usage
Catfish One whole (3 pounds) Cleaned, butterflied, scored Marinate and roast
Garlic 6 cloves Minced Add to marinade
Salt 1 teaspoon Add to marinade and scallion oil
Pepper 1/2 teaspoon Add to marinade
Honey 2 tablespoons Add to marinade
Butter 1/2 cup (1 stick) Melted Add to marinade
Onion 1/2 medium-sized red onion Sliced thinly Tuck under and inside fish
Ginger 1/4 cup Sliced thinly Tuck under and inside fish
Scallions 1 bunch Chopped finely Add to scallion oil and topping
Vegetable oil 1/2 cup + 3 tablespoons Microwave with scallions for scallion oil; drizzle over fish before serving
Fried shallots 1/2 cup – or fry until golden and crispy Sprinkle over fish as topping
Peanuts 1/4 cup Roasted and crushed coarsely or chopped finely Sprinkle over fish as topping
Cilantro A handful Chopped finely Sprinkle over fish as topping
Lime wedges A few Cut into wedges Squeeze over fish before eating

FAQs About Ca Nuong Recipe

If you have any questions about ca nuong recipe, you might find the answers in this section. I have compiled a list of 10 common questions and answers about this dish. If you don’t find your question here, feel free to leave a comment below and I’ll try to answer it as soon as possible.

What is ca nuong?

Ca nuong is a Vietnamese dish that consists of a whole catfish marinated with garlic, salt, pepper, honey, and butter, then roasted in the oven until the skin is crispy and the meat is tender. It is served with rice paper, fresh herbs, vegetables, and various dipping sauces.

What does ca nuong taste like?

Ca nuong tastes like a combination of sweet, salty, savory, and smoky flavors. The fish is moist and flaky, and the skin is crunchy and caramelized. The toppings add freshness, crunch, and nuttiness to the dish. The dipping sauces add acidity, spiciness, and creaminess to balance out the richness of the fish.

What kind of catfish should I use for ca nuong?

You should use a fresh and firm catfish that weighs about 3 pounds. You can ask your fishmonger to clean and butterfly the catfish for you, or you can do it yourself at home. You can also use other types of fish for this recipe, such as salmon, trout, or tilapia.

How long should I marinate the catfish for ca nuong?

You should marinate the catfish for at least 15 minutes at room temperature or up to an hour in the fridge. The longer you marinate the fish, the more flavor it will absorb. However, don’t marinate it for too long, as it might become too salty or mushy.

How do I roast the catfish for ca nuong?

You need to roast the catfish in a preheated oven at 400°F (200°C) for 25 minutes, or until the fish is cooked through and the skin is golden and crispy. You can also broil the fish for 5 minutes after roasting it for extra crispiness.

How do I make scallion oil for ca nuong?

You need to microwave some vegetable oil with salt and chopped scallions until hot and fragrant. This oil will be drizzled over the fish before serving.

What are the toppings for ca nuong?

The toppings for ca nuong are scallions, fried shallots, peanuts, and cilantro. You can also add some lime wedges for squeezing over the fish.

What are the dipping sauces for ca nuong?

The dipping sauces for ca nuong are usually fish sauce (nuoc mam), lime juice (nuoc chanh), chili sauce (tuong ot), or mayonnaise (mayo). You can mix and match these sauces according to your preference.

How do I eat ca nuong?

You can eat ca nuong by peeling off the skin and meat from the bones, then wrapping them in rice paper with fresh herbs and vegetables. You can also dip them in your favorite sauce before eating.

Where can I find ca nuong?

You can find ca nuong in most Vietnamese restaurants or markets. You can also make it at home by following this recipe.

Conclusion

I hope you enjoyed this article about ca nuong recipe. This dish is one of my favorites because it’s delicious, easy to make, and fun to eat. If you try this recipe at home, let me know how it turns out in the comments below. And don’t forget to check out my other articles for more tasty recipes from around the world.

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