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Friday, October 23, 2009

Cast Iron Blackened Catfish Filets

Ingredients

2 (7 - 12 oz) catfish fillets (8" - 10" in length)
1 measure of DIY Cajun Seasoning  
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp thyme
2 Tbs peanut oil
1/4 lb. butter
2 Tbsp lemon juice

Melt the butter, mix it with half of the dry ingredients and the lemon juice and pour it into a casserole dish. Coat the fillets on both sides well and set aside until you are ready to blacken them.

This recipe calls for a seasoned #10 cast-iron skillet. You can buy 'em for $15 - $20 at your nearest discount department store and they should last several life times if maintained correctly.

In fact, you can find out how to 'season' your own cast iron skillets and pots, similar to the way the Cajuns did it in the old days, by visiting a site I discovered recently called What's Cooking America. Here is an excerpt from one of their informative articles about cast iron cookware:
  
"The first most common mistake of why people do not like cast iron is that they say everything sticks. If food sticks to your cast iron pan, your pan is NOT seasoned right and you need to re-season it. Cast iron is a natural non-stick surface and if your pan is seasoned correctly it WILL NOT stick!" 

Now, I know that some folks will find that hard to believe, but they are telling you the truth. There are a few rules you may have to learn along the way when caring for your cast iron cookware, like not using harsh detergents or chemicals to clean them. Doing that can take the seasoning right off and start the iron to oxidizing and then you find yourself with a rusty pot.

Cast iron cookware users find different methods to keeping their irons in tip-top shape. I've used heat, ice and even salt on occasions to clean my cast iron pots and pans.

Enough of that. What you want to do is to spoon in the 2 Tbsp of peanut oil and let the metal pot get very hot. Peanut oil has a higher flash point than the other oils, like canola and seed oils, so it can take higher temperatures,  plus it coats the bottom of the hot skillet better than traditional oils to form a barrier between the iron and the fish.

You will notice when your cast iron skillet gets hot enough to add the fillets by watching for when the peanut oil begins to smoke. When that happens the buttered and seasoned fillets are ready for the pan.

With one hand remove a fillet from the buttered dish and, on both sides,  lightly sprinkle half of the remaining dry seasoning with the other hand. Gently lay the catfish fillets onto the hot skillet, leaving room enough for the second fillet and then repeat the process. It's a snap to do when you get the hang of it (kinda like poetry in motion).

Cook on both sides for about 3 to 4 minutes (you only get to flip them once). After that take the cast- iron skillet away from the heat source and allow it to cool for a couple minutes before moving the blackened fillets to the serving dishes.

This meal goes well with a chilled Gulf of Mexico (wild) shrimp salad with Italian croûtons and a light and creamy buttermilk dressing ... and, perhaps to top it off,  ... a bottle of fine Beaujolais just for contrast.

"Red wine with fish",  you ask?

Well, yes. I've always maintained that if we can blacken a perfectly normal fish,  then we can certainly drink red wine to toast the occasion.


Bon Appetit!  Ahheee!!

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2 comments:

  1. This is an awesome dish. I had it today for lunch, prepared by none other than Chef Jacques Gaspard himself. An outstanding presentation I must say .........much much better flavor than the one I had a Cattleman's Resturant last week.
    The man has it exactly right. Excellent.
    Kathy

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