I usually don’t have impulsive moments at the grocery store. I’m a sucker for clearance buys, especially when I see meats that have discount stickers starting to stack up 2 or 3 thick. Other than that though, it’s pretty straightforward: Rachel and I figure out what we’re eating for the week, and then go get the ingredients we need. It’s actually really helped us stick to our food budget to do it that way instead of the “buy it and then figure out how to eat it” method.
But this past week, that’s exactly what happened. In a moment of inspiration (read:impulsiveness), I walked straight up to the seafood counter like I knew what I was doing (I didn’t). After performing my confusing tradition of refusing help from the first associate and then waiting, irritated, to beg for assistance from the second, I became the proud owner of two fillets of catfish.
I’ve cooked catfish once before, and I really liked it. Catfish is usually fairly cheap, holds together during cooking a little better than its flakier friends, and tastes great. It has a white meat, and although it’s not known for being anything fancy (most people I asked had only ever had it batter fried), it has a lot to offer flavor-wise.
We forgoed (forwent?) the deep fried option in favor of enjoying more of what the catfish had to offer on its own. The only other moderately famous catfish recipe I’d heard of was blackened catfish, and that’s what we went with. It turned out fantastic (look at that picture!).
Our recipe came from Epicurious, and it was a good one. (our version is below). I skimped a little on the cayenne and only put in a pinch, because I would have rather under-spiced the fish than drowning it out with too much heat. In the future I would do a little more, but it tastes great even without a lot of cayenne.
Blackened Catfish Recipe
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp smoked paprika (or just more regular paprika if that’s all you have)
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp dried thyme, crumbled
1/4 tsp cayenne, or to taste
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 catfish fillets (about 1 pound)
1 large garlic clove, sliced thin
1 tablespoon olive oil (not extra virgin)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
lemon wedges to garnish
Mix together the spices, sugar, and salt.
Pat dry the catfish fillets. I decided to cut them into smaller portions so we could decide how much we wanted to eat. Sprinkle the spice mixture over the catfish pieces and rub around to thinly cover the fish on all sides.
On a skillet, heat the oil and sautee the garlic until golden brown (but not burnt). Discard the garlic.
Add butter to the skillet and allow to melt and mix with the oil.
At medium-high heat, fry the catfish, 4 minutes per side, or until cooked through. Make sure you’re getting great color on each side before flipping, or the whole “blackened catfish” idea doesn’t really make sense. You may need to cook in batches in order to not overcrowd the pan.
Once the fish is cooked, remove to a plate or board to cool for a couple minutes and drain some of the pan juices. Serve with other delicious food and the lemon wedges. Enjoy!
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Do you have a favorite way to eat catfish?