I have to admit, I’ve never been a big fan of catfish. I just can’t get pass the sliminess of its skin and find its meat too musky for my taste. The only way I’ll consider eating it is when it’s filleted and deep-fried and even that is a stretch. On the other hand, hito is one of my daughter’s favorites. She watched an episode of Umagang Kay Ganda on Youtube a few days ago on how to cook adobong hito and has been urging me to try the recipe since.
I have to say, the adobong hito they prepared on the show looked darn good, even for a non-believer like me. Other than light-frying the catfish before stewing in the soy sauce-vinegar mixture, I followed their recipe to a T. The demonstrator actually said there is no need to fry the fish beforehand but I prefer a bit of crisp edges. Also, catfish is very fragile and frying it first keeps it from falling apart while simmering in the sauce. And how did the dish turn out? Delicious! The fish was moist and succulent and provided the perfect foil for the flavors of adobo. Done right, catfish can very well be my top fish of choice.
- 4 to 5 calamansi cut into halves
- 1/4 cup salt
- 1 about 2 pounds whole catfish, cleaned and gutted
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1/4 teaspoon peppercorns smashed
- 1 onion peeled and sliced thinly
- 1 thumb-sized ginger peeled and julienned
- 1 large Roma tomato chopped
- 1/4 cup vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 whole star anise
- fried garlic bits
- green onions chopped
- Squeeze the calamansi and drizzle juice inside the fish's cavity. Rub the calamansi and salt all over fish. Let stand for about 5 minutes. Rinse well and cut into 2-inch thickness. In a bowl, combine fish, soy sauce, pepper corns and half of the garlic. Marinate for about 10 to 15 minutes. Drain fish from marinade, reserving liquid.
- In a pan over medium heat, heat about 1-inch deep oil. Add fish and deep-fry until lightly browned but not cooked through. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels.
- In another pan over medium heat, heat about 1 tablespoon oil. Add onions, garlic and ginger and cook until limp. Add tomatoes and cook, mashing with back of spoon, until softened.
- Add vinegar and bring to a boil, uncovered and without stirring, for about 3 to 5 minutes. Add reserved soy sauce marinade and bring to a boil. Gently add fish into pan. Add sugar, bay leaves and star anise. Lower heat, cover and continue to cook for about 15 to 20 minutes or until sauce is reduced and fish is cooked through. Transfer fish into serving plate and garnish with fried garlic bits and green onions, if desired. Serve hot.