My hubby loves Cajun food. (For the record, I like Cajun food, but hubby LOVES it.) And although we have Cajun food at times throughout the year, we both always look forward to Fat Tuesday (the day before Ash Wednesday) as an excuse to indulge in some yummy Cajun cuisine.
I often find inspiration for our Cajun meals from Razoo’s Cajun Café, and one dish of theirs I’ve used as inspiration is their Jalapeño Catfish. According to their menu, the fried catfish is served with a jalapeño cheese sauce, but it doesn’t taste cheesy to me — I make our home version with a jalapeño cream sauce.
The catfish in this dish at Razzoo’s is coated and seasoned differently than how I usually do my “fried” (either “oven-fried” or sautéed in a skillet), but thanks to a cookbook gifted to me by my hubby several years ago entitled “Around the World in 450 Recipes,” I came across a recipe for fried fish in their “Cajun & Creole Cuisine” section that I used as a springboard to create my own take on Jalapeño Catfish.
Using my wee food processor, I whiz the dry breading ingredients together so that they provide a fine texture on the fish. By sautéeing the fish in a non-stick skillet, the fish “fries” and crisps up with a small amount of oil. The heat in the sauce can be adjusted to your personal taste by the quantity of jalapeños you use in the sauce, as well as whether or not you de-rib and de-seed the jalapeño. (I usually use two jalapeños, de-seeding and de-ribbing one of them.)
I’ve been meaning to post this recipe for quite some time, but life responsibilities have kept getting in my way! The last time I made this (for Fat Tuesday 2022, which fell on 01-Mar-22), I wasn’t able to get a picture of the food at that time, but I did get a pic of it the following day, when I reheated the remains for our supper.
IMPORTANT SAFETY NOTICE: Whenever you’re working with hot peppers, such as jalapeños (or even a milder pepper, such as a poblano), it is VERY IMPORTANT that you wear gloves while handling the peppers, as the capsaicin oils in the peppers could irritate your skin to the point of blistering it. I always wear disposable gloves so I can just toss them out when done. It is also VERY IMPORTANT not to touch your face, most especially your eyes, while handling peppers. Once you’re done handling the peppers, carefully remove the gloves (I always peel them off so that they’re coming off “inside out” to help avoid the risk of accidentally coming into contact with those concentrated pepper oils) and discard them, and then carefully disinfect the area where you were working with the peppers.
Laissez les bons temps rouler!
Jalapeño Catfish (Makes 4 servings, can be adjusted up or down)
For the Catfish:
- 4 good-sized catfish fillets (approximately 1 1/2 to 2 pounds total)
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup cornstarch (cornflour)
- 1/2 cup cornmeal (I prefer yellow cornmeal)
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon (or less) reduced-sodium seasoned salt
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 whole egg (or 1/4 cup of egg substitute)
- Squirt or two of yellow mustard
- Splashes of milk as needed (anywhere from 2 to 4 tablespoons to 1/3 to 1/2 cup)
- Vegetable oil (a few tabelspoons) for cooking fish in non-stick skillet
- Cooked rice, for serving
For the Cream Gravy:
- 1 or 2 sliced jalapeños, (I use 2, de-ribbing and de-seeding 1)
- 2 or 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 to 3 tablespoons of butter
- 2 cups milk (I typically use 1% or 2%) or a mix of evaporated milk and milk to equal 2 cups (NOTE: If using 1% or 2% milk, you may need to use a bit more flour and/or simmer for a bit longer.)
- In a deep plate, pie plate, or similar container, beat together the egg, a squirt or two of yellow mustard, and splashes of milk; set aside.
- In a food processor, whiz together the flour, cornstarch, cornmeal, and seasonings (oregano, thyme, seasoned salt, cayenne, and paprika) (you want to lose the “gritty” feeling of the cornmeal); place in another deep plate, pie plate, or similar container.
- Place a small amount (1 or 2 tablespoons) of cooking oil in a non-stick skillet and heat over medium-high heat. (Add additional oil if needed in small increments as fish cooks.)
- Dredge fish fillets first in egg mixture, then in seasoned cornmeal mixture. Sautée in skillet until done (approximately 3 to 5 minutes per side, depending upon the heat of your skillet and thickness of fillets), turning once. Remove to a platter and keep warm.
- Depending upon whether any oil remains in the skillet, add in 1 to 3 tablespoons of butter and heat to melting. Add in jalapeños and sautée until they begin to soften (around 3 to 5 minutes). Stir in flour and brown over medium to medium-low heat. Gradually stir in milk, stirring constantly. Bring to a simmer (low boil) and simmer, stirring constantly, for at least one minute (I usually simmer for three minutes or so). Sauce will thicken upon standing.
- To serve: Place fish fillet over rice and then add jalapeño cream sauce to taste.
- Store leftovers in refrigerator.
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