Chefs nationwide are adding catfish dishes to their menus today, National Catfish Day.
The catfish, one of the world’s least attractive fishes, gets its name from the long barbels (feelers) hanging down from around its mouth, which resemble whiskers (but far less cute). Catfish is found worldwide: Most catfish are freshwater, though there is also a saltwater variety found on the Atlantic and Gulf coasts.
The majority of catfish sold today in the U.S. are farmed in ponds in the Mississippi Delta.
Looks apart, catfish is a tasty fellow, lowfat with firm, mild-flavored flesh (though the tough, inedible skin must be removed before cooking). Catfish is versatile, suited to most manners of preparation, including soups and stews. Much of the time, it’s filleted and fried, grilled or sautéed.
At the Grand Central Oyster Bar (the seafood restaurant located “below sea level” at Grand Central Terminal in New York City), executive chef Sandy Ingber shares his National Catfish Day recipe so you can whip it up at home (we got our catfish at Whole Foods Market).
GRILLED CATFISH FILET WITH ESPRESSO-ANCHO RUB & LEMON CAYENNE SAUCE
Ingredients For 6 Servings
1. Rub all catfish filets with the espresso-ancho rub (below). Shake off excess.
2. Heat grill to medium hot. Dip rubbed filets into a small amount of oil and place on grill. Cook fairly slowly until browned on one side, about 5 minutes, being careful not to burn. Flip over and repeat. Catfish should be cooked all the way through.
3. Put on a plate and serve with 2 ounces of sauce per person. Serve with brown rice and cornbread—both whole grain foods—and a side salad.
Mix all ingredients in a small bowl. The rub can be made up to one week ahead, covered and stored at room temperature.
Vin blanc is one of the mother sauceswe presented a few months ago. It’s a key ingredient of Coquilles St. Jacques and Oysters Rockefeller. After you make it the first time, you’ll find many ways for to use it with fish, seafood and poultry. This recipe makes about 1-1/3 cups.
1. Combine the wine and shallots in a saucepan and bring to a full boil. Reduce by half. Add the water, cream and bouillon and return to a boil.
2. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and cook, stirring, until it smells toasty, about 1 minute. Don’t let the flour brown. Now you have a roux (pronounced ROO).
3. Add about half of the liquid and stir well to dissolve the roux. Stir in the rest of the liquid and bring to a simmer.
4. Add cayenne pepper, that you liquefy with 1 teaspoon of water. Reduce the heat and simmer gently for 5 minutes. Finish with the lemon juice. Strain the sauce through a fine strainer.
Let us know if you think it’s the cat[fish]’s meow.
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