By Request

By Betty Shimabukuro

Wednesday, May 26, 1999

By Dennis Oda, Star-Bulletin
Chef Russell Siu of 3660 On The Rise presents
Catfish Tempura with Ponzu Sauce.

Siu shares secret of
crunchy catfish

Russell Siu makes catfish palatable
for those who don't like fishy fish

CATFISH are the water critters of choice at 3660 on the Rise. Catfish Tempura with Ponzu Sauce was one of the original dishes created by Chef Russell Siu for his Waialae restaurant and remains a favorite on the menu.

"People who don't really like catfish or fishy fish, they like that dish," he said. "We have people calling in all the time to reserve catfish for the night."

The fish is farm-raised and flown in from the mainland twice a week, Siu said. The batter is light, stays crispy and is accented by the citrus-flavored Ponzu Sauce.

Reader Stanley Kawasaki raves about the dish and wants to try making it himself at home, although he worries that the crunchy texture will be difficult to duplicate.

But Siu said the dish is quite simple. The key is a thin batter made with tempura flour and ice water, with egg yolk to produce the yellow color.

The chef suggests using an electric wok for frying because it allows for better temperature control than cooking on the stove.

A final tip: Serve the sauce UNDER the fish. Otherwise, it will make the fish soggy, Siu said.


4 8-ounce catfish fillets
1/2 cup flour
Salt and pepper to taste

Bullet Tempura batter
1 egg yolk
4 cups water
2 cups tempura flour

Bullet Sauce
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup sake
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 cup mirin
1 teaspoon grated ginger
2 tablespoons ponzu (see note)

To make batter: Whip egg yolk into water, then slowly add water to tempura flour, until you have 3 cups of batter. You will not need all the water. Batter should be like a thin pancake batter and slightly lumpy. Do not overmix. Lumps will be absorbed into the batter.

To make sauce, combine first four ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Cool, then add ginger and ponzu.

Season fish with salt and pepper, then dredge in flour. Shake off excess flour and dip in tempura batter.

Heat oil to 350 degrees. Use enough oil so that fillets will float. Fry fish about 10 minutes, until golden and cooked through. Spoon sauce onto plate and top with fish. Serves 4.

Note: Prepared ponzu sauce may be purchased in the Asian sections of some markets or in Asian specialty groceries.

To make your own, bring 1 cup mirin to a boil and reduce to 1/3 cup, about 5 minutes. Cool. Whisk in 3/4 cup light soy sauce, 1 teaspoon dried red chile flakes and 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice. Makes 1-1/4 cups.

Approximate nutritional analysis, per serving (not including added salt): 880 calories, 29 g total fat, 5 g saturated fat, 160 mg cholesterol, greater than 2,000 mg sodium.*


Other readers are looking for proven recipes for rum cake; Sari Sari; or a meatloaf containing beef, lamb and sausage. If you have the recipes, call 525-8668.

Send queries along with name and phone number to:
By Request, Honolulu Star-Bulletin Food Section,
P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu 96802.
Or send e-mail to

Asterisk (*) after nutritional analyses in the
Body & Soul section indicates calculations by
Joannie Dobbs of Exploring New Concepts,
a nutritional consulting firm.

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