This popular Vietnamese caramelized catfish is rich and full of flavors. Catfish filet or catfish steaks are best. A good substitution to catfish would be tilapia or basa filet. Use coconut water or coconut soda for more flavors. —Amy
Wash fish in salt water and pat dry. Set aside. Once dry, place garlic powder, salt, fish sauce, chicken powder to marinate. Let sit for 15 minutes if time permits
Heat oil over medium heat over a skillet. Once hot, add in garlic, shallot and fry until brown, about a minute. Carefully transfer the fish filets and sear on both sides until brown. Add in coconut water and turn the heat to medium low to braise.
While the fish is simmering, prepare the caramelized sauce. Place water and sugar in a separate small saucepan over medium heat. Gently swirl the pan until the sugar starts to bubbles and turn into a caramelize liquid. Quickly pour over the fish.
Continue to simmer the fish on medium low heat for 25-30 minutes until sauce thickens and the fish filets become firm and has nice caramelized color. Season to taste, add more fish sauce if you like it on the saltier side, or more sugar, if needed.
Sprinkles with black pepper and chilis to finish. Serve over rice and steam veggies.