I have no idea why many Filipinos don’t care much for this fish, though I suppose it’s probably because it’s on the bony and spiny side and they don’t have the patience to ferret out those treacherous needle-like things. This is a pity as catfish is quite flavorful and, texture-wise, goes into your mouth with a good bite that transforms into an almost creamy, melting form.
Catfish, in my honest opinion, is best served simply fried till the skin is crisp or grilled till the skin is lightly charred and the insides are meltingly tender. You can even fillet the fish and dredge it in cornmeal before deep-frying for a meal reminiscent of the American South. And speaking of deep frying, I have yet to meet anyone who doesn’t like Thai catfish salad where crunchy bits of the fish are complemented by either green papaya or green mango, the whole deal liberaly doused with a sweetish nam pla-based dressing.
So, you can just imagine my surprise (well, more like shock) when I went into the company cafeteria and found the dish you see at the top of this post. Catfish adobo – a spicy catfish adobo.
This particular adobong hito was cooked with a soy-and-vinegar mixture cooked till thick. Chopped bird’s-eye chilies (siling labuyo) were thrown in towards the end of cooking to add heat and a bit of color. (Not that it matters, though.)
I liked it. It was very savory; the salty-tart flavor of the sauce blending well with the taste of the fish. However, this isn’t really my cup of tea as I like to savor my catfish as is sans embellishments. Nevertheless, it was most interesting and quite unusual.