How to make: Crispy catfish and green mango salad (yum pla dook foo)

How to make: Crispy catfish and green mango salad (yum pla dook foo) |

We had a full course dinner last night — this crispy catfish and green mango salad, miso soup, fried Vietnamese spring rolls, and lemongrass and tamarind chicken. What can I say? I was in the mood for cooking.

Yum Pla Dook Foo was one of the dishes we tried at a Thai restaurant recently. I so loved it that I vowed I would learn how to make it so that we can enjoy it at home.

It’s not an impossible task. It’s not too ambitious a project. There was a time when we only enjoyed miso soup when we ate at Japanese restaurants; these days, we can have Japanese soup at home anytime we like. Same thing with kani salad. The trick is to discover the ingredients of a dish.

Based on a recipe from Complete Thai (Octopus Publishing Ltd., 2006). Serves 6.


  • 1 catfish, about 3/4 kilo (in my case, 4 catfish sections; we fried the rest for dinner the night before)
  • oil for deep frying (how much depends on the size of your wok or frying pan)
  • 2 green mangoes (mine weren’t exactly green but in the first stages of ripening)
  • shredded cabbage (wombok or similar varieties), as much as you like
  • 1 onion or 2 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 c. of chopped nuts (peanuts are recommended; I substituted pili nuts)
  • cilantro for garnish (I used Vietnamese cilantro which grows in my garden)

For the dressing

  • 3 tbsps. of fish sauce
  • 6 tbsps. of rice vinegar
  • 4 tbsps. of brown sugar
  • 2 green chilis, finely sliced
  • 1 red chili, finely sliced

Prepare the dressing ahead to allow the flavors to develop. Place all the ingredients in a jar with a tight cover. Shake until the sugar dissolves. Set aside.

Wrap the catfish in non-stick baking paper and grill in a 350oF oven for 30 minutes. Unwrap, cool and separate the flesh from the bones. Use two forks to shred the flesh.

Peel the mangoes and slice thinly then cut into matchsticks. You can use a shredder but you might lose a lot of the juices.

Dry fry the nuts in an oil-free pan until lightly browned.

Place the shredded cabbage on a plate or shallow bowl. Top with the sliced onion then pile on the mangoes.

Heat the cooking oil to smoking point in a wok or frying pan. Deep fry the shredded catfish until browned and crisp. To do this, place a thin layer of catfish in a slotted spatula, then lower the spatula into the hot oil. Lift when the fish is browned and drain on several stacks of paper towels. Repeat until all of the catfish flesh is browned and crisp.

Place the fried catfish on top of the mangoes. Sprinkle the roasted nuts all over the fish and vegetables. Pour the dressing and garnish with cilantro.


  1. says

    Hi again, Ms. Connie! This is just another WOW! Just reading your description of your procedure— I imagined, “a party” could be going on inside your mouth as you take each bite of this good recipe! I can imagine the excellent flavors and textures… really one good recipe. ;)

  2. peterb says

    Did you debone the catfish yourself? I’ve done this twice with mixed results. My first attempt was better. I guess my mistake was not deep frying the fish. Sarap diba! First time i tried that salad, i wanted to do it also!

    • says

      The fish wasn’t deboned while raw but after grilling. So, it was just like eating grilled catfish except that the flesh went onto a plate rather than the mouth. hehehe

  3. lin says

    Thanks for sharing this recipe. I’ve always wanted to do this dish,but never got around to doing it,so now you have made it easier for your readers including myself to prepare this gorgeous dish.I was just wondering,if I can’t find catfish what would you recommend as an alternative?

    • says

      lin, I don’t know of any fish that tastes like catfish so I don’t know if the substitution will yield good results. But you can always experiment. I’d suggest sticking with oily fish though.

      • M&M says

        Hi Connie,

        I’m new to your food blog and I’m really enjoying going through your recipes. I will try this recipe soon! Thanks for sharing!

  4. Celia says

    Hello Connie,
    I have tasted a similar catfish salad at Soi Thai Restaurant, tho it was not shredded but just fried and salad was arranged covering the body of the fish. I must say that you make it really easy for everybody to do a dish that looks difficult to do. Whenever i need an Asian dish, i always check your site and also love your tips! Thanks for sharing!