Chili Blue Catfish

By: Hannah Lee Leidy
Chili Blue Catfish
Image by Scott Suchman

Traditionally on Chinese New Year, a whole fish on the table symbolizes abundance, and leaving the fish intact from the head to the tail represents a good year from beginning to end. For the home cook, though, a whole fish may be a bit intimidating, so Andrew Chiou of Lucky Danger in Washington DC offers this version instead. “Blue catfish is an invasive species and it’s delicious,” he says. The sauce he pairs with it is “not subtle at all.”


Serves 6 to 8

  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh garlic
  • 1 tablespoon dried garlic rehydrated in water*
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ½ cup sambal
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons fermented sweet rice
  • Pinch of MSG
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • ½ cup Shaoxing wine
  • 16 ounces blue catfish, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • ¼ cup silken tofu, cubed
  • ¼ cup chopped scallions
  1. Heat wok over high heat and add fresh garlic, dried garlic, sugar, sambal, soy sauce, fermented sweet rice, MSG, salt, sesame oil, and Shaoxing wine. Bring to a boil, then add 2 cups of water. Add catfish and tofu and return to a simmer. Let simmer until liquid reduces back to original amount. Add scallions and toss to combine.

*Dried garlic brings a toasty, smoky flavor. Chiou suggests rehydrating it in equal parts water by volume.

  • Recipe By
    Andrew Chiou and Tim Ma, Lucky Danger, Washington D.C.
  • Contributing City
    Washington DC
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