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Jan 11, 2009 09:38 PM

Chinatown Claypot Catfish DIY Bargain

Strolling by Sun Kau Shing Market (1350 Stockton at Vallejo) I spotted them: stacks of boxes labeled Ca Ba Sa in Vietnamese and "Basa Fish Steaks in Claypot" in English. The price? $2.99 each or two for $5.00. Inside each box are two frozen basa (Vietnamese catfish) steaks (amounting to about 12 oz.) and a seasoning packet. These are packed inside AN ACTUAL CLAYPOT which itself is vacuum-wrapped in plastic, and the box has simple instructions for preparation, I haven't tried them yet, as the first one is defrosting in the fridge per instructions.

I can 't tell how much of a bargain as it is until I'd tried them, but the frozen steaks look wholesome enough, and there's nothing scary about the ingredients (Basa fish steak, onion, garlic, sugar, fish sauce, pepper). And what the hey, even if I the fish bombs, I'm left with two clay pots for $5.00).

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      1. re: PeterL

        7.5" outside diameter (not including the handles).

      2. I was in Chinatown this past weekend and saw this deal. I purchase two clay pot package.

        The fish was not real good, very forgettable. Clay pot were decent but nothing outstanding and we will see how they last.

        You can buy a real good clay pot for 4.00 at 99Ranch when on sale or a Japanese copy (made in China) at Diaso.

        I plan to use a clay pot for lop chong rice dish tomorrow night. We will see how well the pot works.

        3 Replies
        1. re: yimster

          I agree, the fish was fatty and muddy tasting and the seasoning left a lot of room for improvement. It provided a substantial meal and a free pot for $2.50, so my expectations weren't all that high. I cooked the second fish in a regular pot and kept the clay pot for cooking stuff I don't want to taste like fish. It fits nicely in my toaster oven. (The wife uses our regular oven for storage of pots and condiments, as she has no use for an oven ;-)

          1. re: Xiao Yang

            I remember these things made a splash in the Chinese markets a couple of years ago, but now they're much less commonly seen. Kind of like the new Chinese restaurants that draw mobs when the open, but then business dies down when people conclude that the food isn't very good.

            1. re: Chandavkl

              I think the problem maybe that it takes at least fifteen minutes for you to get a clay pot dish and twenty minutes to thirty minutes for a clay pot rice dish.

              I still like a clay pot dish on a cold day, I do order a clay pot still today. If well done it petty good.

              I actual use the pot for a clay pot today for lunch and will need one more attempt before I give it a thumbs up. It maybe too shallow to allow enough water to cook the rice. My normally clay pot at close to 4 1/2" high and this one is 2 1/2" high. So today the rice was not cooked properly. But that could be me not the pot but I will try again later.