Oh my goodness!!! Rejoice! This is my favorite, if not—one of my ultimate favorite dishes to make and devour like I'm famished and on the verge of death. The catfish batch alone cost about 36 USD for ~5.29 lbs, boneless fillets. Factoring out other ingredients and labor, my Burmese chili catfish is expensive to make. If I make this for you, know that I'm either expressing my "I love you" or "I appreciate you" depending on the nature of our relationship!
This is also my "litmus test" for my future husband. If you're wincing and flinching by the look of this, you're not my husband material!
- ~5.29 lbs catfish fillet, boneless
- 1.5 cups chili garlic sauce
- 3/4 cup canola oil
- 1/8 cup fish sauce
- 1 teaspoon ground pepper
- Some lemon juice (optional)
- ~1/2 cup dried chili
- 1.5 tsp. turmeric
- 1 tsp. salt
1. Slice and cut the catfish into bite-sized "rectangles" and marinade with 1.5 tsp. turmeric and 1 tsp. salt.
2. Use enough canola (or peanut) oil to deep fry until golden yellow color. Use the image below as a reference to check. I fried my portion in two batches, because I didn't want to waste the cooking oil.
3. Once the catfish resemble the above image from (2), make sauteed onions. You simply thinly-slice about 3-4 medium onions and deep-fry them from the cooking oil used in the first step. Cooking onions will "clean and freshen" the oil, left from the catfish. Ideally you should be using a fresh batch of everything, but that's unpractical and wasteful!
4. The final step is the mixing of the catfish and the onions. Once I separated and set aside the main ingredients, the wok I have been using required cleaning. Place the used cooking oil in an oil container and clean the wok. A simple rinsing and scrubbing may be required. Dry the wok and measure out 1.5 cups chili garlic sauce, 3/4 cup canola oil, and 1/8 cup fish sauce.
5. Add medium-high heat. Be careful, the chili garlic sauce will splatter. This is a great time to cover the wok with it's own cover. Cook this mixture of sauce for about 8 minutes, while stirring occasionally. Another warning is that cooking chili garlic sauce will feel like "fume-y." I highly recommend opening your windows in the kitchen and aiming the high-powered fan in the general cooking direction to help fan the chili fumes away. If you have an exhaust fan that's built into your stove, use it on MAX setting!
6. Once the eight minutes are up for the initial cooking and conditioning of the chili garlic sauce, add in about 1/2 cup of the dried chilies. Honestly, they're for garnish and for presentation purposes. You might taste something; however, for me, I don't taste any hotness from taking a bite out of the dried chilies. Cook and stir occasionally for another 5 minutes.
7. Now that the sauce is prepared, add in the catfish and the sauteed onions and mix well. If you need to adjust the taste, minutely add fish sauce. If you experience too much flavor, squeeze in lemon juice to offset the fish sauce's taste.