MasterChef Catfish Recipe

Christine Ha won the reality competition MasterChef even though she couldn’t see the ingredients or the tools in kitchen.

She started losing her vision about 10 years ago after her optic nerve became inflamed because of an autoimmune condition.

Christine joins The Doctors and prepares her recipe for a braised catfish in a clay pot with pickled cucumbers and carrots, from the new book MasterChef, The Ultimate Cookbook .

Ingredients for pickled carrots and cucumbers:

2 small Carrots, peeled and thinly sliced

2 small cucumbers, thinly sliced into rounds

½ cup rice vinegar

6 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons kosher slat

Ingredients for catfish:

¼ cup canola oil

2 small shallots, sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon cayenne

4 (1-to 1 ½-inch-thick) skinless catfish steaks

¼ cup sugar

2 tablespoons plus ½ cup water

2 tablespoons fish sauce

3 cups steamed jasmine rice

2 scallions, thinly sliced

Cilantro sprigs, for garnish

Lemon wedges


For the pickled carrots and cucumbers:
Toss the carrots, cucumbers, vinegar, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate.

For the catfish:

  • Heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed sauté pan over medium-high heat.
  • Add the shallots and garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  • Stir in the cayenne.
  • Add the catfish and cook until they are golden brown on both sides but still raw in the center.
  • Transfer the catfish to a clay pot. (Be sure your clay pot is approved for stovetop cooking.)
  • Pour off the oil from the pan and spoon the shallots and garlic over the fish in the pot.
  • Stir the sugar and 2 tablespoons of the water in a small, heavy bottomed saucepan over low heat until the sugar dissolves.
  • Brush down the sides of the pan with a very wet pastry brush to remove any sugar granules.
  • Increase the heat to medium-high and cook, swirling the pan constantly but not stirring the sugar mixture, until the sugar dissolves and becomes golden brown, about 5 minutes.
  • Stir in the remaining ½ cup water.
  • Pour the caramel sauce over the fish in the pot.
  • Add the fish sauce and put the pot over very low heat.
  • Simmer, uncovered, until reduced by about half, about 15 minutes 

To serve: 

  • Mound the steamed rice in four wide bowls.
  • Set the catfish steaks on top of the rice and spoon the sauce over the fish.
  • Set the bowls on a large plate.
  • Mound the pickled carrots and cucumbers on the plate.
  • Sprinkle the scallions over the fish and pickles, and garnish with the cilantro as desired.
  • Serve immediately with lemon wedges.