catfish in miso



I have a large bag of catfish bits with which something must be done. <--- See what I just did there? I flipped the sentence so it wouldn't end with the word "with." Damnit.

I really wanted pad Thai because I just now saw a Bobby Flay pad Thai throw-down and that put me in the mood but I don't have any rice noodles and I don't have any more tamarind paste, nor any shrimp so there goes that. But I can approximate the idea using ingredients that I do have, so there I go.

I do have miso in quantity and tofu, two extraordinary Asian contributions to world cuisine. I also have mirin (sweet rice wine) and fish sauce (fermented anchovy in water) so I'm set. I also happen to have napa cabbage which can substitute good vegetable carbs for bad noodles carbs, and chunky peanut butter that can substitute for peanuts in pad Thai.

I added onion, garlic, and broccoli.

These ingredients were built up in a pot starting with frozen catfish. I got that going then added all the rest of the ingredients with broccoli next. If you were to watch me do this, you'd think I'm insane, but there is method to the madness. It's like a liquid stir-fry. You begin with the ingredients that take the longest, catfish in this case because it's frozen. Ordinarily it would be last because fish is most tender. The frozen fish will be cooked at the same time the dense broccoli will be cooked so I do not add all the water at once. I fry these ingredients in scant oil to get them started, then add a small amount of water to stop the frying and start the steaming which hastens the process. Everything else goes into the pot in rapid succession. It doesn't look like soup until the miso is added and the color changes. The peanut butter, an odd ingredient, adds another dimension usually missing in miso soup but it is nearly identical to the way miso mixes. The soup is delicious, but it lacked peppery heat and acidity, so I added Sriracha, which has both, at the table.

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