Catfish was on sale this week! I haven't had any in what seems like forever, and it's a fish I have always loved. I have no idea why some people frown at the mention of them. In my opinion, a catfish is much nicer looking than say, a monkfish. Mind you both are very tasty! :P
I still had a decent amount of cantaloupe leftover from yesterday. Sue, from The View from Great Island, recently made a delicious looking cantaloupe salsa which inspired me to give that a try. It went really well with the blackened catfish. I loved it's slight sweetness in contrast to the spicy catfish.
Often when fish is blackened, both sides are dipped in melted butter and dredged in the spice mixture. I prefer to brush garlic butter onto one side and season only that side. There's usually plenty of butter and spice mixture in the skillet for the other side. You can always double the amount of spices and butter if you prefer the more traditional method.
1 1/2 cups cantaloupe, small dice
1 green onion, sliced
1/2-1 jalapeno pepper (washed, seeded and finely chopped), to taste
small handful fresh cilantro, washed and chopped
salt and freshly ground pepper
juice from 1/2-1 small lime, to taste
I made this a few hours ahead of time to give the flavours a chance to mingle. Combine the cantaloupe, green onion, jalapeno (these vary in size, so use an amount you are comfortable with) and cilantro in a small non-reactive bowl.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Squeeze the juice from half a lime over the salsa and toss. Check and adjust the seasoning and lime juice, if needed.
Set aside for a few hours.
1 large clove garlic
1 1/2 tbsp butter
1 1/2 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp cumin
3/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne, to taste
1 lb catfish fillets, about 4 fillets
2 tsp fresh lemon thyme, minced
1/2 tsp olive oil
1 lime, sliced for garnish
Press the garlic clove through a garlic press, catching any juices into a small microwave safe bowl.
Add the butter and microwave until the butter has melted. Set aside.
Combine the paprika, cumin, pepper, salt and cayenne. Set aside.
Heat a large cast iron skillet (this is the preferred utensil, but I used a large non-stick skillet instead) over high heat. Coat the pan evenly with the olive oil. I do this with a paper towel, using only the tiniest amount.
Brush the garlic butter evenly over the tops of the catfish fillets. Use all of it, dividing it evenly between the top sides of all the fillets. Press the lemon thyme evenly over the fillets, then dredge them in the spice mixture.
Fry the fish, placing the fillets (buttered and seasoned side down) into the hot skillet. Cook for about 2-3 minutes until the edges become opaque. Turn the fillets over and cook for another minute or until the fish flakes easily and is done.
Serve immediately with the salsa and lime wedges.