Trout and salmon are almost revered as superb eating but the catfish is deliberately avoided by many people. When these people are challenged privately it usually transpires that they have never tried it, but firmly believe that catfish cannot be a good thing to eat. Because of this prejudice they are missing out on a wonderful dish. Perhaps it is because the catfish cannot claim to top the beauty stakes when it comes to looks. But beauty is in the view of the beholder.
Being a keen angler I am a firm believer that if you hunt something you should eat at least some of the catch, releasing the balance. So I tried eating catfish very early on in my catfishing career. I must say I was taken with the texture and delicate flavor and it has been a favorite ever since.
Because of the « non-popularity » of the catfish there are not that many recipes that make the most of the catfish. Because of this whenever I come across good recipes I try to publicize them. Here a couple that I have tried and enjoyed recently.
Pine Bark Stew (Serves 8 – 10 people).
•8 ounces bacon, diced and cooked until lightly browned
•5 large potatoes, peeled and diced
•3 cans (approx. 14 ounces each) stewed tomatoes
•3 medium onions cut in wedges
•2 quarts water
•3 pounds skinned catfish fillets, cut into 1-inch pieces
•1 can (8 ounces) tomato passata (sieved pureed uncooked tomatoes)
•1/2 teaspoon salt
•1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
Place the bacon, potatoes, tomatoes and onions in a stew pot or Dutch oven bring to a boil then cover and simmer gently for 2 hours. Now add the fish and tomato passata, season with salt and pepper then simmer for a further 20 to 30 minutes more.
Catfish Gumbo (serves 4 people)
•4 slices bacon, diced
•1/4 cup butter
•1/4 cup chopped onion
•2 cups fresh cooked okra
•2 cups canned tomatoes, un-drained
•1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
•1/4 lemon, thinly sliced
•3 cups boiling water
•1/2 teaspoon salt
•3 drops Tabasco sauce
•1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
•2 tablespoons flour
•2 cups cooked catfish, boned, broken into large chunks
Render the fat of the bacon over a medium-low heat in a heavy Dutch oven or stock pot. Add 2 tablespoons of butter and the onion and cook until transparent, but not colored. Add the okra, tomatoes, garlic and lemon and bring to a boil immediately then add the boiling water, salt, Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce. Then lower the heat and simmer gently, partially covered, for 1 hour. Blend remaining butter with the flour and blend into the simmering stew a little at a time, stirring constantly. When thickened, stir in catfish, check the seasoning. Bring back to the boil then serve with hot boiled rice.
Please try out these recipes for catfish when you next catch some (or you can buy a catfish at the store) I am sure that you will enjoy them and if you can convince someone new to try a catfish dish our efforts will not be in vain.