Laotian catfish soup.

J is slowly getting used to brown rice. She ate all of it up with this here soup!

We had one fillet of uncooked catfish left over from the night before so when I came across this recipe I knew it was meant to be. J was feeling a sickness coming on so soup sounded perfect for her too. I thought the catfish part of the soup would throw her off but instead she said go for it. Further proving that when we think we know what people will say, we really have no clue.

I was missing a few ingredients so as usual I just made do without and added some similar items to replace them. Like dried granulated onion for green onions and zest of the lime for lemongrass. I also added in some dry basil when adding the broth to give it time to soften up. The recipe calls for one and a half pounds of catfish and my leftover piece only came to a little over half pound but I was more interested in the soup, the catfish was more of a bonus for me. I also figured the optional rice could fill in. Well, J loved the catfish and couldn’t help voicing it through all three servings she slurped down, so in the end more catfish would be better. Thinking about it now more fish would also make it more of a “rice dish”. We were all pleased with this one, oh wait not little Z, big thumbs down. The dog ate hers.

Laotian Catfish Soup

Adapted from the book The Essential New York Times Cookbook: Classic Recipes for a New Century by Amanda Hesser.

1 1/2 lb. catfish (I used 1/2 lb. more would have been better for sure)
2 T. peanut oil
12 cloves garlic, chopped (only used six)
3 to 4 Thai chiles, seeded and finely chopped
3 kaffir lime leaves, stems and main veins removed, thinly sliced (didn’t have so I used zest from the lime)
1 14 inch stalk of lemongrass, tough outer layers removed and slice thin (didn’t have so I used zest from the lime)
2 shallots , chopped fine (I used dried granulated onion)
4 c. chicken stock (any stock will do or even water)
2 T. fresh lime juice, about 1 medium lime
Two 1/4 inch thick slices peeled galangal or ginger (I used ground dried ginger)
1 14 oz. can coconut milk, separated
1/4 c. creamy peanut butter
6 T. Asian fish sauce (I used three, all I had left)
2 T. each of fresh basil and cilantro (I used dried basil and put it in with broth)
brown rice (original calls for jasmine), optional

Heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic, chiles, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, and shallots. Saute till fragrant, about 5 minutes. Pour in chicken stock, lime juice and galangal bringing to a slow simmer. In a small bowl mix together 1/4 c. coconut milk and peanut butter. When stock starts to simmer add in the peanut butter mixture and whisk together then whisk in the rest of the coconut milk and cook until warm but not boiling or the coconut milk will separate. When soup is warmed add catfish pieces cooking until the pieces pull apart easily with a fork (cooked through), about 2 minutes. Add fish sauce and fresh herbs and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Serve immediately with rice if you wish.

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