Catfish has long held an important place in the agriculture and culinary traditions of the U.S. Since the 1980s, August has been declared National Catfish Month in honor of the work that goes into making this versatile food source available to everyone from Austin culinary arts students to home cooks on the East Coast. Celebrate the endless possibilities of this amazing fish by trying out a few recipes this year.
1. Pan-seared perfection
“Searing catfish is a fast and easy way to spotlight its natural flavors.”
Searing your catfish is a fast and easy way to spotlight its natural flavors and textures. Robin Miller provided a recipe that complements the dish with a tasty red pepper lime sauce.
First, season fillets with salt and black pepper while warming olive oil on a medium-high heat. Place the fish in the skillet to cook for two minutes on either side. When the fillets are tender and golden-brown, take them off the heat and set aside.
Prepare the sauce by placing roasted red peppers, lime juice, garlic, ginger and cumin in a blender. Puree the mixture until it’s smooth, and then move to a saucepan. Bring the sauce to a simmer before removing from heat and adding cilantro. Serve the fish with the sauce on top and a sprinkling of toasted sunflower seeds.
2. Add Creole flavor to your grilled catfish
As a cornerstone of Southern cooking, catfish is great when paired with Creole-style spices. Serious Eats suggested using a rub and sauce to bring out exciting new dimensions in your grilled fillets.
The sauce calls for setting olive oil over medium-high heat and sauteing onions, celery, and green peppers for up to five minutes. When the vegetables soften, add garlic to cook for 30 seconds, followed by chicken stock, canned tomatoes, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, white pepper, cayenne, thyme and bay leaves.
Heat the mixture to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes. When the sauce begins to thicken, take out the bay leaves and stir in four tablespoons of butter. Finish by adding parsley, green onions and seasoning to taste.
Assemble the seasoning by mixing paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, thyme, cayenne, oregano, cumin, salt and pepper. Cover the catfish with the rub, and heat the grill to medium-high. Brush olive oil onto the fillets before placing them on the grate.
Cook for about three minutes on each side. The fish should be blackened and flaky when you move it to a platter. Allow a few minutes to rest before pouring on the Creole sauce and serving.
3. Deep-fried and delicious
Breaking out the deep fryer is a sure way to turn catfish fillets into a satisfying meal. According to Aaron McCargo, Jr., you should begin with heating the fryer to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Make a batter by whisking together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt and cayenne before adding a bottle of amber beer.
Slice the fillets in half before seasoning with a combination of salt, pepper and granulated garlic. Dip each strip in the beer batter before placing in the deep fryer. Move the strips around as they cook to prevent sticking.
After three or four minutes, the pieces of fish should be browned and crispy. Set them on a platter as they finish and squeeze on some lemon juice to serve.
As part of a culinary academy education, you’ll learn many fantastic ways to prepare fish. Get started on exploring the methods of cooking catfish and you’ll soon discover the approach that best fits your own style.