Hallelujah, I found a fish that even non-fish eaters like! Blackened catfish. The spices are so potent and heavenly that even the most avid non-fish eaters will love this. Who doesn’t like a crispy, salty, spicy piece of protein anyway? You could use blackening spice on a shoe and it would taste good.
I like catfish because it’s a nice combination of fat and flaky. Not as dense as salmon or trout and not as mild and light as sole. It’s hearty enough to stand up to the bold herbs and spices and the hot cast iron pan. The nice thing about catfish is that it’s also a very sustainable fish. I bought 3 beautiful pieces at the Seafront Fish Market in St. Lawrence Market. It was listed as “green” choice among their most sustainable options. Obviously, it will vary from place to place so talk to your fish monger to make the best choices for you and the ocean!
Lucky for me, my best friend Jess was coming over for dinner and she happens to LOVE fish, blackened or not. We were getting ready to go the The Academy Social, part of the Canadian Screen Awards. We were both wearing tight dresses so I thought it would be best to have a hearty, yet healthy meal that wouldn’t make us bloat! After a little google search I found that blackened fish is often served with maque choux. This is what wikepedia has to say about it!
I thought it would be the perfect colourful, fresh, accompaniment to the fish served alongside some plain, white rice. I actually used basmati rice but any rice will do. No need to spice it up. Once it combines with the spicy fish and flavourful maque choux, it’s just lovely and offers some relief for the palate.
Get started on your maque choux and rice first. They can always sit for an extra second if need be, but you want to eat the fish as soon as it’s done! That’s why I like basmati rice because it only takes about 20-25 minutes start to finish. So get on that rice and then start your veg! There’s a lot of different recipe on the internet for maque choux, but this is what I did.
Julia’s Maque Choux
1 large onion, chopped
1 large red pepper, chopped
1.5 cups corn (frozen or fresh)
½ cup cream (anywhere from 5%-35%)
¼ cup Franks Red (or favourite hot sauce)
dash of dried basil and parsley (or use fresh if you have it!)
salt and pepper to taste
Saute the onion over medium heat for a couple minutes in a bit of olive oil or butter. Add the red pepper, corn and dried spices. Cook for another 5 minutes. Turn down heat, add cream and let simmer until thickened. Add hot sauce and fresh herbs. Serve! (or take off heat, wait until your fish is ready, then serve!) Oh, and garnish with a bit of green onion if you have it!
While that was cooking, I assembled my blackening spice.
Julia’s Blackening Spice Mixture
(about a tbsp. each)
Salt and pepper (1 tsp each)
Mix it together in a pie plate of shallow bowl and evenly coat your fish. In a cast iron skillet, allow an oil with a high smoke point (I used avocado oil) to heat on a medium high heat for a couple minutes. Place the fish in the pan and cook for about 4 minutes on each side. It will sizzle and bubble and smoke but don’t touch it! If you try to flip it too soon it’ll stick to the pan and be a real disaster. I put my oven fan on and cracked a window so we didn’t stink up the place too much.
Once your fish is done serve it on a bed of fluffy rice, alongside your beautiful maque choux with a lemon wedge for added brightness. Wash it down with your favourite white wine or pinot noir. OOooooooo baby! I love this catfish so hard. It makes me want to eat catfish everyday, specifically if it’s been blackened. The balance of flavour and texture was perfect. The crisp, sweet corn kernels with the spicy, salty fish and the tender yet slightly chewy rice. And the lemon makes the whole dish sing like an angel.
When cooking the fish, don’t fret if you think you’ve burnt it. When I first flipped it I said “shit! It’s burnt!” and Jess said “no, it’s blackened. It’s supposed to be that way.” She was right, DUH! It tasted amazing.
Ater we stuffed our faces with catfish we went off to the awards with our bellies full, but not bloated. Look at us! With healthy colour in our cheeks because of the spicy catfish and big smiles on our faces because of the free booze.
Thanks again for eating with me! I love everything I make and eat but this one was really special. Make it and let me know how it went!