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  • Writer's pictureTommy Centola

Try catfish in the kitchen

August is National Catfish Month. Fried catfish is found on many menus here in Arkansas. Its mild flavor makes it a perfect fish for various preparations.

Whenever I purchase catfish, I always look for fresh and not frozen. Even though you can get great results using the frozen form, you will always lose the quality that you get with fresh. Fortunately, many local grocery stores stock fresh, never frozen, catfish. You can also find them at local meat markets.

Today, I want to show you three different preparations. The first is a Shrimp Creole sauce to top a fried catfish fillet. The second is a Blackened Catfish PoBoy sandwich. The last one is for your grill, Grilled Catfish Fillets.

Here is a perfect topping for fried catfish fillets. This was the most popular special at Cannon’s restaurant. I created this dish when I was assembling dishes for the Sugar Buster menu. Originally only offered on Fridays, its popularity elevated it to a spot on the regular menu.

Shrimp Creole

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 medium onion chopped

1 cup celery chopped

¼ cup green onions chopped

1 small green bell pepper thinly sliced

3 cloves garlic minced

1 dash cayenne pepper

1 dash thyme

1 teaspoon Creole seasoning

2 bay leaves

14.5 ounce can whole peeled tomatoes drained and crushed

3 ounces tomato paste

3 pounds medium shrimp peeled and deveined

Heat oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Sauté onions, celery, green onions, bell pepper, garlic, thyme, cayenne, Creole seasoning, and bay leaves for a few minutes, until the vegetables are tender. Add tomatoes and tomato paste and simmer for 15 minutes. Add shrimp and simmer for 10 minutes. Serve over fried catfish fillets.

I wish I could find New Orleans-style French bread locally. It is not as dense and crunchier than what you can find locally. You can’t make an authentic PoBoy without it. The best substitute is a hoagie roll. Use it to make this flavorful variation using catfish.

Blackened Catfish PoBoys

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

1 tablespoon Creole seasoning

1 tablespoon sweet pickle relish

2 teaspoons red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon hot sauce

2 tablespoons canola oil

4 (4 ounce) catfish fillets

1 tablespoon blackened seasoning

Toasted French bread, lettuce and tomato for serving

In a small bowl, stir together mayonnaise, parsley, Creole seasoning, relish, vinegar, and hot sauce. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Sprinkle catfish with blackened seasoning. Add to skillet; cook, turning once, until firm to the touch, 2 to 3 minutes per side.

Spread mayonnaise mixture onto bread. Top with lettuce, tomato and catfish. Serve immediately.

Here is an easy way to incorporate catfish to your next cookout. It is simple to prepare and very tasty. It is perfect for the person who wants a lighter item from the grill.

Grilled Catfish Fillets

2 tablespoons Italian Dressing

2 tablespoons Creole mustard

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

2 tablespoons Creole seasoning

2 (6 ounce) catfish fillets

In a small bowl, mix dressing, mustard and Worcestershire sauce. Rub on fillets. Sprinkle Creole seasoning on fillets. Marinate for at least one hour in refrigerator.

Heat grill to medium heat (325℉).

Grill fillets 3 minutes on each side and serve immediately.

Next time you are at the store, buy some catfish. There is no limit to the ways you can cook the versatile fish. From fancy to down-home, catfish is a tasty and inexpensive way to feed you family. Until next time, stay safe and keep on cooking!

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