" Zoolander" Cat-Wok

We guarantee there's no cat in this dish, but there are two pounds of succulent catfish!

You will need:

  • 2 pounds catfish filet, cut into 2" pieces
  • 2 tablespoons dry sherry
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons chili paste
  • 3-4 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • 1-2 dried hot red peppers
  • 2 tablespoons minced ginger
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons Chinese salted black beans (available in the Asian foods section of most supermarkets.)
  • 1/4 pounds mushrooms
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1/4 pound asparagus
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch


1. Cut catfish into 2" chunks and place in a mixing bowl. In a second small bowl, combine the sherry, sugar, soy sauce and chili paste; pour over the catfish and toss to coat evenly with the mixture.

2. Quarter the mushrooms, slice the onion and cut asparagus on the bias into 2" pieces. Combine the scallions, ginger, garlic and black beans in a small bowl and place within reach of the stove.

3. Take batteries out of smoke alarms. Heat a wok or cast iron skillet over high heat until very hot, about 2 minutes. Pour a thin line of peanut oil in a circle around the center circumference of the wok. Let the oil run down the side and pool in the middle. If the wok is hot enough the oil will begin to shimmer and smoke.

4. Immediately add half of the garlic-scallion mixture; stir fry just long enough to flavor the oil. Scatter half of the catfish around the lower half of the wok. Allow the wok to regain heat by not stirring the meat for 10 seconds, then stir fry until it cooks halfway, another 45 seconds or so.

5. Shovel the catfish onto a plate and wipe the wok clean with a wad of paper towel. Reheat wok and stir fry remaining catfish as above; transfer to the plate and wipe the wok again.

6. Reheat wok and drizzle with oil as before. Add mushrooms and asparagus and stir-fry until the colors are bright, about 30 seconds. Combine the chicken stock and cornstarch and stir into the asparagus and mushrooms. Return the catfish to the pan and stir fry to blend flavors. Add the dried hot red peppers. Continue cooking until the sauce is shiny and thick enough to coat the catfish and vegetables, but not gloppy. If the sauce seems too thick, add a splash of water or chicken stock.

7. Put batteries back in smoke alarm and serve at once with steamed rice.

Serves 4

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