For me, Lenten season means fried fish sandwich season. And while I do enjoy the occasional Friday fillets from various fast food joints, the homemade version can take on any number of flavors besides just one doused in tartar sauce. This one is a catfish po' boy of sorts, but rather than using cajun or creole seasonings, I went with fish sauce and curry for a Thai-inspired po' boy.
For the slaw, shredded red and napa cabbages are dressed in a mixture of lime juice, fish sauce, and sambal that all combine to form a cool, crunchy, and spicy bed for the catfish fillet.
Salt, pepper, and curry powder are sprinkled over the catfish fillets before they are dredged simply in rice flour and then pan-fried until golden and crisp. The dressed slaw is piled onto sliced French bread, then the just-fried, crispy, and spicy catfish fillet is nestled onto the slaw, followed by a final spritzing of lime juice. The finished roll has everything that makes for a great fried fish sandwich—hot, crisp, flavorful fish and a cooling slaw—but with bold Southeast Asian flavors.
- For the Slaw:
- 2 tablespoon canola oil
- 2 tablespoons juice from about 2 limes
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 to 2 teaspoons Sambal chili sauce
- 1 cup shredded red cabbage
- 1 cup shredded napa cabbage
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- For the Sandwich:
- 1 teaspoon curry powder
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 catfish fillets, cut in half (about 1 pound total)
- 1/2 cup rice flour
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- Lime wedges, for squeezing
- 1 French bread roll, about 16 inches in length
For the Slaw: whisk together the canola oil, lime juice, fish sauce, sugar, and sambal in a large bowl. Add the shredded cabbages and cilantro and toss to combine. Set aside in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
For the Fish: Combine the curry powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl, then sprinkle on all sides of the catfish fillets. Place the rice flour in a shallow dish, then dredge the catfish fillets in the rice flour, shaking off any excess.
Heat the canola oil in a large cast-iron pan over medium high heat until shimmering. Place the catfish fillets into the pan, working in batches if necessary. Fry the catfish until crisp and golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer the fried catfish to a platter lined with paper towels and season immediately with salt and pepper. Repeat until all fish is cooked.
Divide the bread into 4 equal pieces, then split each in half horizontally. Divide the slaw among 4 of the bottom halves of the bread, then place a piece of catfish on each sandwich. Top with the remaining halves of the bread and serve with lime wedges for squeezing over the fish.