To the uninitiated, caramel and fish sauce are like Romeo and Juliet: The relationship defies the stars. But it's as natural as that light through yonder window.
After the jump, a recipe for catfish simmered in a caramel sauce. And watch out for another upcoming recipe here on Eating Our Words highlighting those same ingredients.
Catfish in Caramel Sauce
1. Put the catfish into a large glass bowl and coat evenly with brown sugar, pepper, salt and fish sauce. Set aside.
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2. In a shallow pan large enough for all the catfish to fit snugly in a single layer, caramelize the sugar with the oil and half of the water over medium heat for 15 minutes, or until the caramel is a deep, dark color, but before it smokes.
3. Add the rest of the water and bring back to a simmer. The caramel will seize and there will be a lot of sizzling but when it simmers again, the sugar will dissolve.
4. Add the garlic and catfish. Be sure to pour in all of the fish sauce mixture collected at the bottom of the bowl. Return to simmer. Cover and cook for 30 minutes or until the liquid reduces to about half. Flip the catfish halfway through cooking.
5. Serve with rice and your favorite boiled green vegetable. The sauce is edible liquid gold. Pour it over rice and try to have sauce, rice and fish in every bite you take.