Jet Tila’s Crispy Catfish Raft with Green Mango Salad, as seen on Guy's Ranch Kitchen Season 6.
Recipe courtesy of Jet Tila

Crispy Catfish Raft with Green Apple

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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 50 min
  • Active: 30 min
  • Yield: 2 servings
I like to call this dish a catfish raft because of the airy and crispy disk of catfish that's suspended over a spicy, sour and sweet apple salad. It took me years to perfect it and it’s one of my favorite ways to prepare fish. You can substitute any flaky white fish like tilapia, halibut or mahi-mahi for the catfish.


Yum Dressing:



Special equipment:
a mortar and pestle
  1. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.
  2. For the yum dressing: Combine the fish sauce, lime juice, palm sugar, garlic and chiles in a medium saucepan. Place over medium-high heat and allow the palm sugar to melt. Taste, and adjust any of the amounts if you’d like.
  3. For the catfish: Season the fish with the salt and some pepper and place on a baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil and place in the oven to roast until fully browned and almost overcooked, about 20 minutes.
  4. Transfer the fish to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and turn on to medium speed to break up the fish. Slowly add the breadcrumbs and continue to mix until fully incorporated. Add the mixture to a mortar and pound it until it looks like dry, fluffy threads and small bits of fish.
  5. Fill a high-sided, heavy pot a quarter full of cooking oil, leaving several inches of space in the pot for the oil to expand and bubble up. Heat the oil to 375 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with a wire rack or paper towels.
  6. Divide the fish into three parts. Place the first third in a spider or a small bowl. When the oil has reached 375 degrees F, take a pot lid in one hand as a shield and use the other hand to carefully scatter the fish evenly across the hot oil. Stop adding fish if the oil bubbles up and threatens to overflow the pot; wait until it subsides before adding more fish.
  7. With a slotted spoon or spider, gently loosen the raft from the sides of the pan so it can float freely. Once it is a light golden brown, flip the raft over and cook until the bottom is crisped and golden brown. Remove it with the slotted spoon or spider, let excess oil drip back into the pot, and transfer it to the prepared sheet pan to drain.
  8. Let the oil come back to temperature and repeat with the remaining fish.
  9. Lay the green apples and celery leaves in the center of a large platter. Top with the fried fish, cashews and yum dressing. Serve immediately.