We must have fish for dinner the days we do our shopping so they’re as fresh as possible. Catfish must be imagined as the lowly bottom dweller, but the truth today is different. Add some stewed Brussel sprouts and crank up the stereo with Allen Toussaint…
Except for their supplies from Vietnam, catfish are well-regarded among most reviewers for their firm texture, moist appearance and mild odor. Like tilapia, catfish are a lower-fat fish which still provide more heart healthy nutrients than most lean meats. And the taste? OK fried to many but even more delicious and healthful sautéed (like here) or baked. I make it a periodic addition to my fish diet.
This recipe would be perfect with okra and hopefully I’ll find it someday in my Southern California store. But not today, so Brussel sprouts are another excellent side choice. Somehow New Orleans never seems more than a bite away.
Catfish and Brussel Sprouts
- 4 6 oz. catfish fillets
- 1/3 cup yellow corn meal
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper
- 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- A little hot sauce for serving (optional)
The veggies and other ingredients:
- 3 slices bacon (optional)
- 1 cup chopped Vidalia or other sweet onion
- 1 cup chopped green bell pepper
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 4 cups or more sliced Brussel sprouts
- 2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 tsp. hot sauce, any style (I like Cholula Chili Chipotle Hot Sauce here)
- 2 tsp. cider vinegar
- 2 tsp. fresh thyme
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Buy the best, cleanest catfish you can find. Mix the corn meal, salt, pepper and cayenne in a small bowl, cover both sides of each catfish fillet, and shake off the excess. Set aside.
If included, cook the bacon slices in a skillet over medium-high heat until nearly crisp. Remove the bacon from the pan, reserving 2 teaspoons they dripped. When cool, crumble or cut the bacon into small pieces.
Heat a large Dutch oven on the stove and add the saved bacon dripping (or use olive oil), the onion and the bell pepper and saute until tender, about five minutes. Squeeze in the minced garlic for another minute. Then add the Brussel sprouts (or okra), chopped tomatoes, water, hot sauce, cider vinegar, salt, thyme and black pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Adjust seasoning and sprinkle with the bacon.
About 5 minutes before the vegetables are done, heat a little olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Cook the catfish top side down for about 2 ½ minutes before turning them over. You should see some slight browning from the attached corn meal. Once flipped, cook them an additional 2 to 2 ½ minutes longer. Carefully cut through the thick portion of one fillet to confirm they have been cooked through.
Divide the fillets and veggies among four plates. If you like, add a little more hot sauce and serve, thinking about New Orleans.