Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Catfish-n-Greens




The day after eating a pile of yummy shrimp remoulade, you don't just make yourself a sandwich and call it quits. Well, I don't anyway.  And  what, I ask you,  says "Sunday supper" more than  Cajun-style catfish and spicy greens?  
Cajun-style Catfish
serves 4

4 catfish filets
4-5 tsp Cajun seasoning (recipe follows) 
handful chopped fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley
2 spring onions, sliced
extra virgin olive oil
lemon wedges

Rinse and pat the filets dry
In a glass baking dish, coat both sides of the filets with olive oil
Rub about 1/2 tsp of Cajun seasoning on each side of the filets
Sprinkle a dash of Prudhomme's seasoning salt on each filet
Bake, uncovered,  in a 375 degree oven for 30 minutes or until the filets are cooked through - DON"T OVERCOOK!!

To serve, toss some fresh parsley and spring onions on top and garnish with a lemon wedge. This dish is so simple, yet it looks like you did so much.  

Cajun Seasoning
This is adapted from a recipe in one of my sacred texts,  In Commander's Kitchen, the Commander's Palace cookbook. Technically it's a Creole seafood seasoning, but 1.) I use it on just about everything, not just seafood and 2.) when I want it to have more of a Cajun feel, I just up the cayenne and sometimes add white pepper.  I also don't put much salt in it, another way in which I diverge from the Commander's recipe - I like the option of adding more seasoning without making the dish more salty.  And yes, I learned that the hard way. 

I almost never measure when I mix this up, and it turns out a little differently each time  - it's more about proportion for me, so don't feel that you have to follow this to the letter.  Experiment and have fun with it until it tastes like your own personal blend.

2 tbsp powdered garlic
1-2 tbsp fresh ground black pepper
1/2 - 1 tbsp cayenne (or more if you like it hot like I do!)
1 tbsp dried thyme
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp dried basil
2 1/2 -3 tbsp sweet paprika
1 1/2 tbsp powdered onion
A few pinches of salt
Optional: white pepper, about a teaspoon or two

Mix it all up and keep it in a glass jar or container. I'm telling you, this stuff makes everything taste better!


Of course you want some spicy greens to go with your catfish. I make greens so often - we get loads of them from our CSA each week - that I can make this version in my sleep. It's super easy and oh-so-yummy. If you've never worked with habanero peppers before, a word of caution: While you're chopping these babies, do NOT put your fingers anywhere near your face, eyeballs, mouth, ears, cuts, or any other vulnerable openings I haven't mentioned unless you like the feeling of  red hot, burning mucous membranes. When you've finished chopping, wash your hands until you can touch the tip of your tongue without feeling any burn.  Then and only then are you safe to touch pets, loved ones, and yourself. 

Spicy Greens

2 roughly chopped bunches of hardy greens such as collards or kale, stems removed. (Don't dry the greens after you wash them.)
One onion, thinly sliced
1 large or 2 small habanero peppers, minced, seeds removed unless you want a 3-alarm fire in your mouth
1 vegetable bouillon cube
About a teaspoon of suya seasoning (technically suya is West African grilled meat with a spicy peanut rub, but I think that the seasoning works really well in these greens. This is probably some sort of heresy but I don't care. If you don't have access to an African market that sells it, you can make your own.)
4-5 canned plum tomatoes, chopped, plus a little juice
4-5 glugs of peanut oil
salt and pepper to taste

In a large stockpot, brown the onions in the peanut oil over medium high heat. 
Add the habanero peppers, salt and pepper, and suya seasoning and continue to saute for a few moments
Add the damp greens, stir and put the lid on for just a couple of minutes, until the greens start to wilt.
Add the bouillion cube, about a 1/2 cup of water, the chopped tomatoes and a some of the tomato  juice, salt and pepper.
Put the lid on, but leave space for steam to escape. Lower the heat and bring the greens to a simmer - they'll be tender in about a half hour, but the flavors will intensify the longer you simmer. You'll probably need to add water and  a splash of juice from the canned tomatoes at some point while you're cooking. You want to make sure that there's always a little liquid in the pot, - the "pot liquor" - but not so much that the greens are swimming in it. Whenever you add liquid, taste and adjust the seasonings accordingly. 







4 comments:

  1. Even though I am not a huge fan of Southern cuisine, this dish sounds very delicious and love the ingredients, I will be happy to try it. Unfortunately I did not have a great experience while in New Orleans, I think you can make great Southern food without frying it.

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  2. Looks very good! I am a big fan of catfish, we had a large stocked pond when I was a kid, and ate them a couple times a week. I dont miss the fish cleaning though, I'll sacrifice that perfect taste and just buy the blander farm catfish at Sams

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  3. I must admit I have a soft spot for Southern food - fried and otherwise - but it's nice when you can make it with a little less guilt. ; )

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