Vietnamese-style Catfish Claypot

This coming weekend marks the celebration of the Lunar New Year. Unknown to many, populations other than the Chinese celebrate this occasion, among them, the Vietnamese. Vietnamese Tet festivals were held last weekend in many parts of the U.S.  In celebration of the Lunar New Year, I thought of re-posting this recipe:

San Jose, California — where I currently reside and work –has the largest concentration of Vietnamese of any American city. As a matter of fact, the area where I used to live, near Tully and Story Roads, is considered a predominantly Vietnamese neighborhood where there is no shortage of malls, restaurants and businesses that cater to this population.

Like in many cities which has a large Vietnamese American population, there is a “Little Saigon” in San Jose, although there has been a political controversy over the renaming (and subsequently rescinding of the name) of the district to “Saigon Business District.” But that is a subject better discussed outside of this food blog 🙂

Years before I moved to San Jose, I frequented this city as part of my outreach work to the larger Asian American & Pacific Islander community in Northern California. It was then that I was introduced to what has become one of my favorite Vietnamese dishes — catfish in a claypot.

It is a dish that’s inexpensive and easy to prepare, if you have a clay pot handy.


2 catfish fillets, sliced into desired serving or bite-size pieces

2 tbsps brown sugar

1 tbsp  olive oil

3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed

1/2 cup vegetable stock

2 tbsps fish sauce

1/2  piece, green jalepeño, thinly sliced

Freshly-ground black paper to taste

2 stems green onions, sliced into 2-inch pieces

5-6 cilantro leaves


In a claypot, add the brown sugar and about a teaspoon of water to moisten. Turn heat to medium

Mix in the garlic, jalapeno pepper and olive oil, stirring constantly for about one minute.

Add the fish sauce and vegetable stock and stir.

Place the catfish into the claypot, making sure all the pieces are well coated with the sauce. Cover and cook for about 5 minutes.

Uncover the pot, turn up the heat to medium high and continue cooking until the sauce thickens.

Serve from the clay pot and garnish with green onions and cilantro.  Add black pepper to taste.


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