Saturday, January 28, 2012

Novice's Catfish Stir Fry (新手的鯰魚翻炒)

This recipe represents what one can make with the ingredients in the pantry.  Rice noodles, rice wine, sesame oil, and dried chiles (given to Clare and my as a gift from two good friends).  I also had some mushrooms and half an onion left over from another recipe.  The only thing that I purchased was some catfish.

With all of these ingredients, the question is how to prepare the dish.  I decided to make a stir fry.  The term "stir fry" describes two Chinese cooking techniques for preparing food in a wok.  The two techniques are  chǎo (炒) and bào (爆).  Chǎo refers to the method of heating a wok, adding a little oil, searing the meat and then adding the vegetables and liquid.  Bào refers to heating the wok to a dull red, adding the oil, spices, and meats followed by broth and/or vegetables. 

I don't have a lot of experience making a stir fry, so I just "winged" this recipe.  And, quite frankly, I did neither chǎo nor bào, although the method I used is closer to the former than the latter.  The method I used is perhaps best described as 初學者 or "novice."  But, I have to start somewhere ...

A Chef Bolek Original
Serves 2-3

1 catfish fillet (about 3/4 pound), cut into even sized pieces
1/2 onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, diced
4 ounces of button mushrooms, sliced
2 tablespoons of canola oil
2-3 tables of rice wine
1 teaspoon of seasame oil
1/3 package of rice noodles
2-3 dried chiles

1.  Hydrate the rice noodles.  Place the noodles in a small pot with very warm water for five to eight minutes.  After the time has elapsed, turn the pot on high.

2.  Begin the stirfry.  Heat the canola oil in the wok.  Once the oil is hot, add the onions and stir continuously to keep the onions from burning.  After about two or three minutes, add the mushrooms and garlic.  Continue to cook for about two or three more minutes.

3.  Add the rice wine.  Once the onions and garlic are translusent and the mushrooms are cooked, add the rice wine.  Also add the dried chiles.  Stir to mix the ingredients together.

4.  Add the catfish.  Add the catfish and cook until the catfish is opaque, about three to five minutes.

5.  Add the noodles.  Drain the noodles and add them to the wok.  Stir until the noodles are coated with the rice wine liquid.  Continue to cook for about a minute or two longer.

6.  Plate the dish.  Divide the noodles between the plates.  Spoon the catfish pieces, mushrooms and onions over the noodles.


For this recipe, I think beer provides the best pairing.  A Japanese beer, such as Kirin or Sapporo, or a Chinese beer, like Tsingtao, would work well, helping the cleanse the palate of the sesame flavor for the next bite.  Another possible pairing is 

Kiuchi Brewery -- Hitachino Nest XH
Belgian Brown Ale aged in Shocyu Casks
Ibaraki, Japan
Flavors of Sake, Shocyu, with a little bitterness


 For some basic information about the stir fry method, check out Wikipedia.

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