Author Notes: Believe it or not a huge amount of the seafood we consume in the US comes in frozen from Asia---think maybe 75% of the shrimp sold in supermarkets. That includes places like Whole Foods. This is not necessarily a bad thing as long as the fisheries are safe. Recently I discovered farm raised swai being sold in a local big name chain. Swai is a Vietnamese catfish. You can easily buy it through one of the Safeway brand name markets. Nice texture and good value per fillet. So I went with a twist on the southern US down home fish fry. The dipping sauce begins with Nuoc Nam which at first smells like something you would use as plant fertilizer. But when it comes in contact with other ingredients and foods it is transformed into something spectacular.
Serve this with cups of steamed short grain rice.
- 2 fillets of swai (or catfish) equal to 1 pound
- 1 1/2 cup Rice Krispies
- 1/4 cup toasted rice flour
- 1 teaspoon ground Korean pepper or cayenne
- Peanut oil
- sea salt
- Nuoc cham for dipping as follows,
- 1/2 cup Nuoc Nam fish sauce (we like 3 Crabs)
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- 1 dried hot pepper seeded and chopped (bird chile would be good. Use too depending on your heat threshold)
- garlic cloves, chopped
- juice from one squeezed lime
- 1 teaspoon sugar (coconut palm if available)
- In a food processor grind up the Krispies to the texture of bread crumbs
- Set up your fry station by beginning with one pan with the rice flour and ground hot pepper and a second pan with the Rice Krispy crumbs
- Meanwhile in a deep pan (preferably cast iron) or your fryolater heat 3â€ of peanut oil to a temperature of 375F
- Cut the swai into large pieces and dredge each first in the rice flour and then in the Krispy mix. Fry until nice and golden and drain on paper towl. Season with sea salt.
- Combine all of the nuoc cham ingredients and portion out into individual dipping bowls