Neighborhood Eats: Caramelized Catfish at Falansai

BUSHWICK, Brooklyn (WABC) -- In this edition of Neighborhood Eats, we're headed to Brooklyn for a taste of multi-cultural cuisine.

Henry and Katja Trieu opened Falansai in Bushwick five years ago, and Henry realized he needed to open his own place since the best part of his office job was the view.

He had been a chef at the acclaimed Slanted Door in San Francisco many years ago and wanted to return to Vietnamese cooking, but with some additional touches including French, Chinese and even Latin.

The Pho soup, for example, can be accompanied with one of the sauces from the globetrotter list -- like the aji amarillo, a Peruvian sauce.

There are summer rolls, but also autumn rolls that get their vivid hue from beets. Green apples are inside. Vermicelli noodles are colored blue -- yes, blue -- from butterfly pea flowers.

There's something unusual about most dishes, which is in part why Falansai has a following. And as for the name? Falansai is the way Henry's father mispronounced "Francais."

Recipe for Falansai Caramelized Catfish (or Salmon) Claypot

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 6 minutes
Serves: 2
(We recommend to serve the dish with Jasmine rice)


--2 tablespoon vegetable oil
--1 pound of salmon filet or catfish filet
--1/4 pound sugar or solid palm sugar
--3 fluid ounces of fish sauce
--1 tomatillo cut into 5 wedges
--A few inches of cut green onion
--Grounded black peppers
--Quarter of a red bell pepper, cut 1/3-inch thick

To make the caramel sauce:
--Pour the fish sauce portion and sugar into In a small pot, boil until the sugar is dissolved and mixture is dark brown, about 10-12 minutes. The sauce should be gooey like maple syrup. Set aside to cool.

--Cut fish filet into 1-inch thick chunks

--Add oil in a small pan or clay pot. Then arrange fish chunks, skin side down.

--Pour 3 tablespoons of the caramel sauce over the fish. Cover and cook in high heat for about 5 minutes.

--Open cover and add tomatillo.

--Baste the juice/sauce to cover the tomatillo and salmon.

--Sprinkle black peppers generously.

--Add cut onions and bell peppers on top. Cover and cook for another minute or so.

--Serve immediately at the table while lifting the cover to reveal the arrangement and watch the steam rise!

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