With more people eating fish and seafood these days, if only through Lent, home cooks are always looking for new twists on old stand-bys. One of those stand-bys is catfish. After all, it’s been around for a while … like since the late Cretaceous period (no wonder the poor thing needs a new outfit!). I have to admit that I have no particular fondness for the Whiskered One; I also don’t understand the whole thing with catfish nuggets – what’s up with that? However, to be fair, catfish is pretty popular around here with many of our customers (in fact, channel catfish or “channel cats” are the most fished catfish species in the U.S. and the most numerous catfish species here as well, not to mention that they’re the state fish in five states), which means it could use a bit of sparking up now and then.
Most people think of catfish as either deep-fried or fried in a pan as Cajun or blackened catfish. That’s certainly not the only way to make it. In fact, plain fried catfish is kind of like the warm-up suit version: cozy and familiar, but without any oomph. Think of the suggestions below as a sort of makeover, like putting the Whiskered One in a party dress. Wheeee!
Given all the fusion influences out there in restaurant trends, food magazines and other media, why not try something completely different? Here are some ideas to get you started. Once you’ve tried a few variations, you’ll be thinking of your own versions before you know it. And don’t forget to share what you like with your foodie friends, darlings: sharing is caring, y’all.
- Asian style – marinated for 20 minutes in 1/3 cup Ponzu with 1 tsp. Thai fish sauce, drained and patted dry, then dipped in Chinese batter or Tempura batter and deep fried
- Traditional with a twist – soaked in Guinness for 15 minutes, then shaken dry, beer battered and deep fried; serve hot with lemon wedges and Louisiana tartar sauce
- Jerk style – soak for 15 minutes in marinade of 1 heaping tbsp. JCS hot jerk paste in 1/3 cup Key lime juice, then grill or bake
- Jamaican curried – simmer a combination of 1 can coconut milk with ¼ cup lime juice, ¼ cup Goya passion fruit juice, curry powder, ginger powder or crushed ginger, crushed garlic, and 2 tbsp. Rasta Sauce; reduce sauce by one-third, then add fillets and simmer until done. Serve over white rice with black beans on the side
- Simple Caribbean – rub fillets with freshly squeezed lemon juice and sprinkle on JCS Port Royal Fish Frye Seasoning, then bake or grill/broil as usual; serve over coconut rice
- Veracruz style baked or broiled – marinate 15 minutes in La Preferida or Goya mojo marinade, then drain; melt 2-3 tbsp. unsalted butter and combine with equal amount of medium-strength Nando’s Peri-Peri Sauce and baste both sides of the fillets, then bake or grill/broil as usual
- Creole lemon mustard – combine 3 heaping tbsp. of Zatarain’s Creole mustard with 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice and a pinch of freshly grated lemon peel; mix well, spread over fillets, bake as usual
- Traditional with a twist – mustard fried: combine Louisiana New Orleans style Lemon Fish Fri breading with 1 tbsp. dried dill weed, 1 tsp. crushed mustard seed, and ½ tsp. dry mustard; mix well, then bread fillets with this mix as instructed on the package and fry as usual.