Whether you love or hate a fried, cornmeal-dipped filet, the whole baked catfish at Saigon Block ain’t your average flathead fish. Here, the catfish are baked to perfection and embellished with enough fresh garnishes to feed your entire family a vibrant, and dare we say it, healthy meal.
Ca nuong da don is a classic Vietnamese dinner, perfect for sharing with a group of friends or your hungry family. At Saigon Block, you’ll frequently see folks crowded around the table with bottles of booze brought from home, drinking and sharing the fish. Available in three sizes, this show-stopping dinner is ridiculously budget-friendly, clocking in at around $12-$15 per person if you bring a party of four.
Baked for 45 minutes and garnished with enough accoutrements to constitute an entire dinner in their own right, this whole roasted catfish is the kind of plate that's worth the wait. Eater photographer Kathy Tran caught a glimpse into the making of this stunning and fresh catfish dish at one of the city's best Vietnamese restaurants.
- Because the whole fish takes around 45 minutes to bake, the cooks at Saigon Block always have catfish in the oven.
- The Saigon Three — an appetizer of pork, shrimp wrapped around sugar cane sticks, and ground beef in Hawaiian seaweed — will tide you over while you wait the 15 minutes for the fish to finish.
- An assortment of accoutrements, including herbs, rice noodles, and rice paper with warm water for dipping hit the table as you await your whole baked fish.
- Fresh out of the oven, the catfish is garnished with a salad of green onions and garlic.
- A shower of crispy dried onions comes next
- The catfish is deboned at the table in one fell swoop.
- Behold, the finished product.
- Once the fish is served, wet a rice paper with the provided warm water, stack high with veggies, and pile on the catfish.
- The finished product, ready for dipping in pineapple-anchovy sauce