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Chinese Catfish Recipe: Simple Cooking Techniques to Do at Home

Chinese catfish recipes are a great way to add some variety to your weekly meal plan. Catfish is a quick and economical protein source that can be cooked in a variety of ways. Chinese cuisine offers a wide range of catfish recipes that are simple to prepare and require only a few essential ingredients.

A chef prepares Chinese catfish, marinating it in soy sauce and ginger, then grilling it over an open flame. The aroma of sizzling fish fills the air as the chef garnishes the dish with fresh cilantro and slices of lime

Choosing the right catfish is an important first step in preparing any Chinese catfish recipe. Fresh catfish is always the best choice, but frozen catfish can also be used. When selecting fresh catfish, look for fish that are firm and have a clean, fresh smell. If using frozen catfish, make sure it has been properly thawed before cooking.

Essential ingredients for Chinese catfish recipes include soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and green onions. These ingredients are used to create a savoury and aromatic broth that complements the delicate flavour of catfish. Cooking techniques for Chinese catfish recipes include steaming, boiling, and stir-frying. Proposing the use of seafood in the recipe is a great suggestion where applicable. You could use prawns, squid, or scallops to add more variety to your catfish dishes.

Key Takeaways

  • Chinese catfish recipes are a great way to add variety to your weekly meal plan.
  • Choosing the right catfish and essential ingredients is key to creating a delicious Chinese catfish dish.
  • Chinese catfish can be cooked using a variety of techniques, and seafood can be added to increase variety.

Choosing the Right Catfish

A chef selecting a fresh catfish from a market stall

When it comes to making Chinese catfish recipes, choosing the right type of catfish is crucial. Here are some things to keep in mind when selecting catfish for your dish.

Freshness Indicators

When buying catfish, look for signs of freshness such as clear eyes, shiny skin, and a mild, fresh smell. Avoid fish with cloudy or sunken eyes, dull skin, or a strong fishy odour.

Best Catfish Varieties for Chinese Recipes

There are several types of catfish that are commonly used in Chinese cuisine. Here are some of the best varieties to consider:

  • Channel catfish: This is the most commonly farmed catfish in the United States and is known for its mild, sweet flavour and firm texture. It is a good choice for dishes that require a firmer texture, such as stir-fries or grilled dishes.

  • Blue catfish: This variety has a stronger flavour than channel catfish and a firmer texture. It is a good choice for dishes that require a stronger flavour, such as stews or soups.

  • Flathead catfish: This variety has a mild flavour and a flaky texture. It is a good choice for dishes that require a flaky texture, such as fish cakes or fish balls.

If you want to experiment with other types of white fish, you can try using carp, sea bass, cod, grouper, or haddock. Seafood such as prawns or squid can also be used to add more variety to your dish. Just make sure to adjust the cooking time and seasonings accordingly.

Choosing the right catfish is key to making a delicious Chinese catfish recipe. By keeping freshness indicators in mind and selecting the best variety for your dish, you can ensure that your catfish dish turns out perfectly every time.

Essential Ingredients for Chinese Catfish Recipes

A table with fresh catfish, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, and green onions. A wok sizzling with oil, as a chef chops ingredients

Chinese catfish recipes are known for their unique flavour and aroma. If you're interested in preparing this dish, there are a few essential ingredients that you need to have on hand. Here are some of the key ingredients that you'll need to make a delicious Chinese catfish recipe.

Seasoning the Fish

To start off, you'll need to season the fish properly. This is important because it enhances the flavour of the fish and makes it more delicious. Some of the essential ingredients that you'll need to season the fish include ginger, soy sauce, scallion, pepper, salt, sugar, and vinegar. You can also use other seasonings such as light soy sauce and garlic to add more flavour to the fish.

Creating the Sauce

The sauce is the heart of any Chinese catfish recipe. It's what gives the dish its unique flavour and aroma. To create a delicious sauce, you'll need to use some of the essential ingredients such as seasoned soy sauce, ginger, scallion, sugar, and vinegar. You can also add other ingredients such as garlic and pepper to enhance the flavour of the sauce.

If you're looking to add some seafood to your Chinese catfish recipe, you can use other types of seafood such as prawns or scallops. These seafood options can add more texture and flavour to the dish. However, if you're looking to stick to tradition, catfish is the way to go.

Chinese catfish recipes are easy to make and require only a few essential ingredients. By following the steps above, you can create a delicious and flavourful Chinese catfish recipe that will impress your guests.

Cooking Techniques

Chinese catfish being marinated in soy sauce, ginger, and garlic. Then, it is pan-fried until golden and crispy. Finally, it is garnished with green onions and served with a side of steamed rice

Catfish is a versatile fish that can be cooked in various ways, including steaming, frying, and roasting. Each method has its unique flavour and texture, and the choice of cooking technique depends on your preference.

Steaming Catfish

Steaming is a healthy and straightforward method of cooking catfish that preserves its natural flavour and nutrients. To steam catfish, place the fish in a steamer basket over boiling water and cook for 10-15 minutes or until the fish is cooked through. You can add seasoning such as ginger, garlic, and soy sauce to enhance the flavour. You can also add seafood such as prawns or scallops to the steamer basket to create a seafood medley.

Frying Catfish

Frying catfish is a popular method of cooking in Southern cuisine. To fry catfish, coat the fish in seasoned cornmeal and fry in hot oil until golden brown. You can use a deep fryer or a wok for frying. Frying gives the fish a crispy crust and a tender, juicy interior. You can serve fried catfish with tartar sauce or hot sauce.

Roasting Catfish

Roasting catfish is a simple method that imparts a smoky flavour to the fish. To roast catfish, season the fish with salt, pepper, and cooking wine and roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until the fish is cooked through. You can also add vegetables such as onions, peppers, and tomatoes to the roasting pan to create a one-pan meal. Roasting is a great way to cook catfish fillets or steaks.

When cooking catfish, you can also experiment with different cooking techniques such as stir-frying, grilling, and poaching. Seafood such as prawns, scallops, and squid can also be used in the recipes to add variety and flavour.

Garnishing and Serving

Catfish placed on a serving platter, garnished with fresh herbs and sliced vegetables. A side of soy sauce and chili oil

Selecting Garnishes

Garnishing your dish is an important step in Chinese cooking. It not only adds visual appeal but also enhances the flavour of your dish. When selecting your garnishes, consider using fresh herbs such as cilantro, green onions, or shallots. These garnishes will add a burst of flavour and colour to your dish.

For a more sophisticated look, sprinkle some sesame seeds on top of your dish. This will add a nutty flavour and a nice crunch to your meal. If you are using seafood in your recipe, consider garnishing your dish with some seafood such as shrimp or crab meat. This will add a unique flavour and texture to your dish.

Plating Your Dish

When it comes to plating your dish, presentation is key. Start by placing your catfish fillets on a plate, and then add your garnishes on top. You can arrange your garnishes in a way that is visually appealing, such as creating a fan with your green onions or cilantro.

If you are serving your dish with rice, consider using a small bowl to shape your rice into a mound, and then placing it on the side of your plate. This will not only add visual appeal, but it will also make it easier for your guests to eat.

To finish off your dish, drizzle some of the sauce from your catfish recipe on top. This will tie all the flavours together and create a cohesive dish. Serve your catfish hot and enjoy!


A whole catfish surrounded by chopped scallions, ginger, and garlic, with a bowl of soy sauce and a plate of fresh cilantro on the side

No Chinese catfish recipe is complete without some delicious accompaniments to complement the dish. Here are some suggestions to elevate your catfish meal to the next level.


Rice is a staple in Chinese cuisine and is the perfect accompaniment to any catfish dish. Whether you prefer white or brown rice, it's best to cook it with a little bit of rice vinegar to add some tanginess to the dish.


Vegetables are a great way to add some colour and nutrition to your catfish dish. Stir-fried bok choy, broccoli or snow peas are all excellent options. You can also add some garlic cloves for extra flavour.

Tare Sauce

Tare sauce is a sweet and savoury Japanese sauce that pairs perfectly with catfish kabayaki. It's made with soy sauce, mirin, sake and sugar, and can be used as a marinade or dipping sauce.


Seafood is a great addition to any catfish recipe. You can add some shrimp or scallops to your stir-fry for a delicious surf and turf dish. Alternatively, you can top your catfish with some grilled prawns or crab meat for an extra special touch.


Sesame oil and vegetable oil are two essential ingredients in Chinese cuisine. Sesame oil adds a nutty flavour to your dish, while vegetable oil is perfect for stir-frying. Use these oils sparingly to avoid overpowering the flavour of your catfish.

To conclude, the accompaniments you choose will depend on your personal taste preferences. Experiment with different flavours and ingredients to find the perfect combination for your Chinese catfish recipe.

Frequently Asked Questions

A Chinese catfish swimming in a clear, bubbling stream with bamboo and lotus flowers in the background

What's the secret to a perfectly crispy fried catfish?

The secret to perfectly crispy fried catfish is to coat it in a mixture of cornmeal and flour before frying. This creates a crispy exterior that complements the tender and flaky interior of the catfish. It's also important to fry the catfish in hot oil to ensure that it cooks evenly and quickly.

How do you bake catfish to keep it moist and flavourful?

To keep catfish moist and flavourful when baking, it's important to marinate it beforehand. A simple marinade of olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and herbs can infuse the catfish with flavour and keep it moist during baking. Covering the baking dish with foil can also help to trap moisture and prevent the catfish from drying out.

Can you suggest a good marinade for Chinese-style steamed catfish?

For Chinese-style steamed catfish, a good marinade can be made by combining soy sauce, rice wine, ginger, and garlic. This marinade will infuse the catfish with savoury and aromatic flavours that are characteristic of Chinese cuisine. Adding some chopped scallions and cilantro to the marinade can also add some freshness and brightness to the dish.

Why is marinating catfish in milk recommended by some chefs?

Marinating catfish in milk is recommended by some chefs because it can help to tenderize the fish and remove any unpleasant odours. The lactic acid in the milk can break down the proteins in the catfish, making it more tender and flavourful. Additionally, the milk can help to neutralize any fishy odours that may be present in the catfish.

What are the best sides to serve with a Chinese catfish dish?

Some of the best sides to serve with a Chinese catfish dish include steamed rice, stir-fried vegetables, and Chinese-style noodles. These sides can complement the savoury and aromatic flavours of the catfish and provide some balance to the meal. Adding some seafood-based sides, such as shrimp dumplings or crab rangoon, can also add some variety and flavour to the meal.

How can I tell when my catfish is cooked through?

The best way to tell if catfish is cooked through is to check its internal temperature with a meat thermometer. When the catfish reaches an internal temperature of 63°C, it is fully cooked. Alternatively, you can check the texture of the catfish by gently pressing it with a fork. If it flakes easily and is no longer translucent, it is cooked through.