April 8, 2011

Catfish Delights

All right kids. I know you’ve been anxiously awaiting a post. Life gets in the way, then catfish shows up in the grocery store for a buck fifty a fillet. So there you have it.
Also watched an episode of Emeril ecogreen cuisine or whatever it’s called and it’s fantastic. I think Emeril and I would be best friends. No offense Emeril, but you haven’t taught me any new techniques. However, you have uplifted my Cajun spirit and curiosity. But you know what they say...curiosity killed the cat [fish] (sorry).
First recipe, tried and true. I must give credit to Guy Fieri, whose recipe is so cleverly entitled “Not Lackin’ on the Blackenin’ Catfish.” Gotta love a man who likes his apostrophes. But I have altered this recipe quite liberally. Here we go:
Getcha self some catfish fillets. In South Texas we avoid the hardheads. “Hardheads” are saltwater catfish. They are mean little suckers and their gills will slice your hand wide open. How do I know this you ask? Because my father lived in a little town called Rockport, also known as one of the best fishing spots in the world. I therefore legitimize both my fishing skills and my Cajun background. (I’ve got deep roots in Acadiana, honey).
Guy calls for 4 fillets, but I think it works best on two, with a bit of the spice mix left over.
My additions include: sweet paprika (pimenton dulce, which is almost neon pink-red; a cayenne-paprika mix which is very hot; some Tony Cachere’s (mama [pronounced maw-maw] went to high school with that brilliant little cartoon man); and a chile piquin mix that I picked up at Fiesta, a Mexican grocery store in Texas. Just eyeball it. The rest of the measurements are important.
2 tbsp. paprika (Hungarian)
1 tsp. cayenne
1 tsp. dried thyme (don’t worry if the leaves are whole)
1 tsp. dried chili powder (I used ancho chile)
2 tsp. garlic powder (go ahead and put three)
1 tsp. ground cumin (don’t overdo it)
2 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper (is there any other kind?)
2 or 3 (6 oz.) catfish fillets
2 tbsp. canola oil
2 tbsp. butter (go ahead and use four)
4 lemon wedges (use a whole lemon)
Preheat oven to 200 F. Line a large baking sheet or casserole dish with two tablespoons of cold butter chopped into cubes and lemon wedges.
Mix all dry ingredients (spices) together in a small bowl. Get a large sautee pan nice and hot, and add a tablespoon of butter and two tablespoons of canola oil. Then spread a little onto a plate large enough to accommodate one of the fillets. Dredge the fillet in the mix on both sides quickly. Pop it into the pan, then pour some more of the spice mix onto the plate and dredge the other fillet or two and pop ‘em in the pan too. Don’t pour all of the mix onto the plate at the same time because it will get saturated and possibly chunky, and most importantly won’t stick to the fish. Sautee the fish for two or three minutes, making sure they get nice and blackened (they won’t be charcoal black but you’ll know). Then put all of the fillets (this may be in batches as normally only two fillets will fit in a large sautee pan) on top of the bed of lemon and butter, and put that in the oven for about five minutes. If the lemon wedges still look good, serve them with those. If not, then garnish with some parsley that is still on the stalk. It will look divine.
Red cabbage salad:
Slice red cabbage as thinly as possible. Julienne cucumber (remove seeds and skin first) and slice red onion as thinly as possible. Pour about ¼ cup white wine vinegar, ¼ cup apple cider vinegar, some salt and pepper over the salad. Let marinate for at least two hours, then toss. Serve this with your catfish. So pretty, and pretty healthy except for the butter.

The second catfish recipe is quite simple as well. Instead of dredging the fillets in the spice mix, just season them on both sides with sea salt and fresh black pepper. Sautee them in a very hot pan with some butter and olive oil this time.
In food processor, mix 2 cups flat-leafed parsley leaves, about five fresh basil leaves, 3 cloves garlic, 2 tbsp. white wine vinegar, 6 tbsp. olive oil, a teaspoon of anchovy paste, salt, and pepper. The mixture should be thick and stick to the sides of your food processor bowl, so adjust accordingly. If it’s too thick, add more parsley. If it’s too thin, add a bit more vinegar or olive oil.
I also put the seared catfish on a bed of spinach, butter, and green peppercorns that come in brine for about five minutes afterward. Then spread the pesto on top of the fish.
For the salad for this one, I omitted the red onion and cucumber, and just did the cabbage. I then topped it with some alfalfa sprouts. Simple but great.


Timz said...

Ill try that with some snapper!

mysouscalledvide said...

OK, I'll condone it only because I love me a good red snapper, but I must say it's slightly sacrelig. Let me know how it comes out.