Saturday, September 28, 2013

Thai-Style Catfish - Plah Toht Kamin

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...I'm told that plah toht kamin is a native Thai dish. I can't speak to the veracity of that because each time I've had the dish it was made by a French chef who was plying his trade in Southeast Asia. Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and, to a lesser degree, Vietnam seem to be magnets for French chefs. I suspect there are more of them in Southeast Asia than there are in France. The fusion of wonderful native cuisine with French technique and talent makes for some fascinating meals, and what native and French chefs are able to do with fish is really amazing. While most of the food we had in Asia was wonderful, our best meals in China were vegetarian and our best meals in Southeast Asia were fish or shellfish. I stopped by the fish market today to see what was available and found some gorgeous looking catfish fillets at bargain prices. I was determined to sidestep my usual blackened preparation and come up with something that, for us, would be new. I remembered the turmeric fried catfish we had in Thailand and Laos and set out to reproduce it. We had a lovely meal this evening. Fish prepared in this manner is really easy to make and can be on the table in about 30 minutes. The only remotely exotic ingredients are turmeric and fish sauce and they can be found in most large supermarkets. Bob really enjoyed this, so it will make an encore performance at the table in the next few weeks. I served the fillets with a Thai cucumber relish and sticky rice. I hope you'll try this. It is remarkably good. Here's the recipe.

Thai-Style Catfish - Plah Toht Kamin...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite


2 tablespoons chopped garlic

1 tablespoon chopped shallot or scallion

2 teaspoons ground turmeric

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons fish sauce

3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided use

1-1/4 pounds catfish fillets

Flour for dredging fish

Optional: Thai chili-lime sauce dipping sauce


1) Place garlic, shallots, turmeric, sugar, pepper, salt, fish sauce and 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in the bowl of a small food processor. Process to a fairly smooth paste, using a small amount of water if necessary to bring ingredients together. Combine fish fillets and turmeric paste in medium bowl or baking dish, turning fillets to coat evenly with marinade. Let sit for 15 to 20 minutes at room temperature. The fillets can be marinated for up to 24 hours if covered and refrigerated.

2) Place about 1 cup of flour in a pie plate or cake pan. Dredge fillets in flour, shaking off excess. Heat reserved 2 tablespoons oil in a large frying pan set over medium-high heat. When a drop of water sizzles in pan, add fillets and cook, turning once, for 5 to 7 minutes depending on thickness of fillets. Be careful when turning. Transfer to a serving plate and serve with a Thai dipping sauce if desired. Yield: 4 servings.

Chili-Lime Sauce:


1/4 cup fish sauce

3 tablespoons lime juice

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic

1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh hot green chilies

1 teaspoon finely chopped cilantro


Combine fish sauce, lime juice, sugar and garlic in a small bowl, stirring until sugar dissolves. Sprinkle with chilies and cilantro. Set aside. Best served at room temperature.

You might also enjoy these recipes:

Thai Fish Cakes with Cucumber Relish from One Perfect Bite

Thai Cucumber Relish from One Perfect Bite

Thai Fresh Pea Soup with Green Curry from One Perfect Bite

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