Today it’s easy to find catfish from all over the world at local supermarkets. But in days of yore “The Big Muddy” and its tributaries were a prime source of the fish and some good recipes for using it.
New Orleans is one of my favorite spots for all kinds of food and some fabulous ones using catfish have been developed there. Fried catfish is popular all over the south, but New Orleans’ recipes for it usually contain a little extra pizzazz.
I like to go light on breading, and prefer Panko bread crumbs to the cornmeal that’s more traditional in the south. For one thing, it’s hard to find non-GMO cornmeal these days. And for another, I like the lightness of panko flakes.
If you’d like to celebrate National Catfish Month in a light and healthy way, take a shot at making my New Orleans inspired lightly fried catfish:
Crescent City Catfish
· 4 1/4 lb Catfish filets
· Ground Red Pepper
· Salt and Ground Black Pepper to taste
· 1 C Plain Panko Bread Crumbs
· 1/2 C Sesame Seeds, black, white, or mixed
· 2 T Mayonnaise
· 1 tsp Ginger Paste
· 1/2 tsp Garlic Paste
· 1/4 tsp Ground Red Pepper
· 2 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
· Season both sides of filets with salt and peppers.
· Mix sesame seeds and breadcrumbs, place the mixture in a shallow bowl and dredge the filets through the breading mix until each is well coated.
· Heat oil in skillet or sauté pan over medium heat.
· Blend mayonnaise, ginger paste, garlic paste, and 1/4 tsp red pepper together to make tartar sauce and set aside.
· *When oil is hot add filets and cook until the breading turns golden all the way up the sides.
· Flip gently with spatula and cook until that side turns golden, too.
· Remove from pan and drain on paper towels.
· Sprinkle with a little more salt and serve with tartar sauce.
*This fish can be baked for those who prefer an even lighter “fried” catfish. To bake, place fish in a 400° oven and bake for 1 minute. Reduce heat to 325° and bake for 10 minutes longer. Remove and serve with sauce.
And if you’re looking for a delicious side that isn't deep fried, try my French “Fried” Zucchini recipe in honor of National Julienne Fries Day on August 12th.