Catfish, just the name has always excited me. Cat + fish, sworn enemies combined in a single creature, it simply invites fables and tall tails. And the fact that they are such a Southern fish makes them all that more intriguing, conjuring images of back-country fish shacks serving cornmeal crusted homestyle cooking. Yum!
Blackened catfish is even easier than cornmeal crusted and it fries up quick as a flash in your seasoned cast-iron skillet (notice a theme here?!) The “blackened” part is simply a spice rub that is dusted and pressed into the fish that creates an amazing crust both flavorful and perfect for keeping the fish from sticking to your pan.
Making your own blackening mix is as easy as combining teaspoon servings of your favorite herbs and spices plus some salt. For this meal I was not working from my own pantry so I grabbed a mix when I bought the fish and it was fantastic. A good combination for those wanting less heat includes garlic and onion powder or flakes, ground with some paprika, salt and Italian or Mediterranean herb mix. If you want more heat, add some cumin, cayenne or ground chipotle pepper, all at your own risk!
Blacken spice (store bought or mix your own with any of the following: garlic powder, onion powder, Italian herbs, paprika, cayenne, ground cumin, ground coriander)
Catfish fillets (1 per diner)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Evenly coat each side of a fillet with the spice, shaking off excess. Heat a heavy skillet large enough to hold at least 2 fillets over high heat for 3-4 minutes until you can feel the heat when you place your hand about 2 inches above the pan. Add the oil and swirl around the pan and allow to heat for 30 seconds. Place fillets in pan and cook 4-6 minutes per side, depending on how thick the fillets are. The ends will crisp and fry up faster than the center but that is part of the beauty of a blackened fish. The fish is done when it is opaque through the center and flakes easily. Serve with lemon if desired.
Recipes currently inspiring me: