Pan-Fried Catfish Fingers with Tartar Sauce and Hushpuppies

by Michelle on January 12, 2011

I went grocery shopping this week and I gasped at the price of a bunch of green onion….$.59. Last week green onions were $.39 a bunch and the week before that they were 3-bunches for a $1.00. I have never in my life paid $.59 for green onions! After the vegetable and fruit section, I held my breath and headed towards the meat bins. Geez Louise, the prices are outrageous so I decided to pass on the meat and let Mr. Tastebuds handle that part of our diet.

My next stop was the fish counter. The fish counter at my market is always good and since I live in Illinois fresh fish is expensive. I wanted some fresh fish period so I’m not mentioning the cost and I decided to get some fresh Catfish which looked wonderful and it was on sale. I love Catfish!

Ahhhhhh….Catfish such a delicious fish but it’s so ugly. I’ll never forget the first time I caught one. I was fishing with my Dad and my brother and all of sudden my pole was bent over into an upside down “U”. I was scared but my Dad was so excited. When my Dad finally netted the fish, it was huge and so primitive looking. But to this day, it’s a biggest fish I’ve ever caught and it tasted wonderful!

Usually Mr. Tastebuds prepares the Catfish but this time I wanted to try Emeril’s recipe because of the buttermilk bath which sounded outstanding. I can’t describe how good this Catfish tasted. I bought way more Catfish then I needed but we ate every single piece and I wanted another helping! I am a lightweight when it comes to hot, spicy food so I did cut down the hot pepper sauce. If you’re a Tartar Sauce lover, which I am not, but I truly love this Tartar Sauce recipe. I first made it when cooking my way through “Le Cordon Bleu: At Home” cookbook and this is one recipe that I have made over and over. For the Hushpuppies I did add 1/3 c corn and 1/2 TBL honey and they were delicious.

Pan-Fried Catfish Fingers
Recipe adapted from Emeril Legasse’s “Southern Comfort”

1 1/2 pounds catfish fillets, cut on the diagonal into 1-inch strips
1/2 cup buttermilk (If you don’t have buttermilk just add 1 tsp of vinegar to 1 c milk)
2 tablespoons Creole mustard (I used 1 TBL Dijon Mustard)
1 tablespoon Essence, recipe follows See **NOTE
1 tablespoon minced garlic (I used 3 cloves of garlic crushed)
2 teaspoons red hot sauce (I used 1/2 tsp hot sauce)
Vegetable oil, for frying
1 cup flour
2/3 cup cornmeal
1 tablespoon salt

NOTE: In place of the Essence I used:
1/2 tsp dried Marjoram
1/2 tsp fresh Thyme
1/4 tsp Hot Hungarian Paprika
2-3 fresh basil leaves, minced
1 green onion, minced
Pepper, freshly ground to taste

Place the catfish in a non-reactive bowl. In a second bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, mustard, Essence, garlic and hot sauce and pour over the fish. Stir to thoroughly coat, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 1 hour. Prepare the Lemony Tartar Sauce while the fish is marinating.

Preheat 3/4-inch of oil in a large Dutch oven or heavy cast iron skillet to a temperature of 350 degrees F.

Remove the fish from the refrigerator. Combine the flour, cornmeal, and salt in a re-sealable plastic food storage bag and shake to blend. Using a fork, remove the fish fingers, a few pieces at a time, from the marinade, allowing excess marinade to fall from the fish. Transfer the fish to the flour-cornmeal mixture and toss to coat. Transfer to a plate and repeat with the remaining fish.

Fry the fish, in batches if necessary, turning to promote even browning, until golden brown, crispy, and cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a paper-lined plate to rest briefly before serving hot with the Lemony Tartar Sauce and Hushpuppies.

Emeril’s ESSENCE Creole Seasoning (also referred to as Bayou Blast):Emeril’s ESSENCE Creole Seasoning (also referred to as Bayou Blast):

2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme

Combine all ingredients thoroughly. Yield: 2/3 cup

Tartar Sauce
Recipe adapted from “Le Cordon Bleu at Home”

Mayonnaise:
2 egg yolks
1 TBL Dijon Mustard
2 TBL White Wine Vinegar
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 1/4 c. vegetable oil

Tartar Sauce:
2 TBL chopped gherkins (You can use Dill or Sweet Pickles or just a plain cucumber is fine too)
2 TBL capers
1 TBL, onion, finely minced
1 TBL parsley, finely minced
1 TBL chives, finely minced
2 egg yolks, hard boiled, mashed

First make the mayonnaise: Bring the first 5 ingredients to room temperature. Combine the egg yolks, mustard, salt and pepper in a bowl and beat well with a small whisk. Whisking continuously, add about ½ cup of oil, drop by drop, until the mayonnaise has thickened and emulsified. Then whisk in the remaining oil in a thin, slow stream until the mayonnaise is smooth and thick. Whisk in vinegar. Taste and adjust seasonings. I make my mayonnaise in a blender and skip all the hand whisking.

Blend in gherkins, capers, onion, parsley, chives and mashed hard-boiled egg yolks. Mix well and serve.

Hushpuppies
Recipe adapted from Paula Deen

6 cups peanut oil
1 1/2 cups self-rising cornmeal
1/2 cup self-rising flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 small onion, chopped
1 cup buttermilk See **NOTE (If you don’t have buttermilk just add 1 tsp of vinegar to 1 c milk)
1 egg, lightly beaten

Variation:
1/3 c corn, either fresh or defrosted frozen corn
1/2 TBL honey

Using a deep pot, preheat oil for frying to 350 degrees F.

Using a mixing bowl, stir together the cornmeal, flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir in the onion. In a small bowl, stir together the buttermilk and egg. Pour the buttermilk mixture into the dry ingredients and mix until blended. Drop the batter, 1 teaspoon at a time, into the oil. Dip the spoon in a glass of water after each hushpuppy is dropped in the oil. I used my 1 tsp cookie scoop and it worked out very well. Fry until golden brown, turning the hushpuppies during the cooking process.

You will need to fry the hushpuppies until they are quite brown to make sure the interior is cooked. To start just fry one hushpuppy and test it.

NOTE: There was quite a discussion on Paula’s site about the batter being too runny so I only used about 1/2 c buttermilk. I alternated the buttermilk and egg gradually adding them until the batter was the consistency of the above photo.

AllRightsReserved@BigBlackDog

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Comments

  • Sheila January 12, 2011 at 12:27 am

    I’m coming over to your house with my fork in hand! This looks great, Michelle!

    XO,

    Sheila :-)

  • Jane Bonacci - The Heritage Cook January 12, 2011 at 12:40 am

    Wonderful explanation of how to know when the batter is at the right consistency! BRAVO!

  • Honeyb January 12, 2011 at 6:40 am

    This looks really yummy! I have never had catfish (can you believe it?!) but have had bullhead and heard that it is similar. The hushpuppies look awesome. Heck, I’d eat this for breakfast if you sat it in front of me!

  • Kayte January 12, 2011 at 6:50 am

    Oh my that looks so wonderful, and it’s only breakfast time here! Catfish for breakfast for me? Oh yeah, if it looks like this I could easily eat some for breakfast. Love that the LCB tartar sauce recipe we learned back then…I usually make that one as well these days.

  • RSA Online January 12, 2011 at 3:07 pm

    I’m not sure which part of this meal I like best :) Catfish = delicious, hush puppies = mouth watering, tartar sauce = to die for

  • teresa January 12, 2011 at 5:15 pm

    haha, catfish really are hideous buggers aren’t they. i remember being scared of them when i was younger. this looks incredible, i love the homemade tarter sauce!

  • kat January 12, 2011 at 7:47 pm

    I’m drooling over the hush puppies myself

  • Judy January 13, 2011 at 5:03 pm

    Just wonderful! I feel the same way about prices, especially fish. I found out the price of fish has really gone up everywhere, though!

    I admire your expertise with fried foods. Looks just great.

    Thanks for the tips/recipe for the mayo. I’ll keep trying. I just get a mess.

  • SMITH BITES January 14, 2011 at 6:41 pm

    catfish IS ugly but it’s also darn tasty – these look wonderful!!

  • […] I posted about my Fried Catfish a few days ago, I wasn’t completely truthful. I said “we ate every single piece” […]

  • Cheryl B. January 24, 2011 at 4:11 pm

    I was starting to work on our obligatory ‘paper work’ when I remembered your comment from this posting about the price of green onions. We don’t always buy them, it’s more of an occasional thing. I knew that Brian had picked some up this weekend, so I checked that receipt for the price he’d had to pay. “Green onion – 1 @ 3/ $2.00 – .67”.
    The red grapes were $2.10 a pound.
    If I keep going – that’s one expensive chicken salad sandwich I had for lunch! Geesh!

    While I have never caught one, I too have always thought cat fish were just ugly looking. Glad yours tasted so darn good! 😉

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