Catfish Creole Recipe

Growing up in southeastern Oklahoma, I caught and ate my share of freshwater fish. Fresh, wild fish was so common at my home, it wasn’t until I moved to New Orleans in college that I realized some people actually buy catfish. Up to that point, I assumed everyone just caught their own channels, blues, and flatheads like us.

It was in New Orleans that I worked the kitchen of Brigsten’s Restaurant—an award-winning eatery known for their contemporary Creole cuisine. This was the foundation of my culinary career and fostered my love for Cajun food. Since then, I’ve devoted much of my time to the preparation, practice, and perfection of this unique coastal cooking style. This recipe was born of that devotion.

Serving size

3-4

Time to make

45 minutes

Ingredients

Creole Sauce
3 tbsp. butter
3 tbsp. flour
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 cup celery, diced
1 tbsp. oil
2 cups wild game stock (or chicken stock)
2 tbsp. Cajun seasoning (such as Tacticalories Dirty South)
2 tsp. fresh oregano, minced
2 tsp. fresh thyme, minced
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp. Tabasco sauce
3 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 tbsp. tomato paste
3 green onions (scallions), thinly sliced

Blackened Catfish
2 lb. catfish fillets
2 tbsp. butter, room temp
2 tbsp. Cajun seasoning
1 tbsp. oil

Also works with

Any firm, flaky fish

Special equipment

Dutch oven/heavy-bottom pot, cast iron pan

Method

1
  1. Preheat a Dutch oven or heavy-bottom pot over medium heat. Melt butter and stir in flour. Using a whisk, continually stir until the mixture becomes slightly lighter than the color of a brown paper bag, approximately 3-5 minutes. This mixture is called the roux and is the foundation of your sauce. Do not rush this process by using a higher heat or you will burn the roux and your sauce will taste bitter.
  2. Stir in the garlic, bell pepper, onion, and celery. Add a tablespoon of oil and mix well. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Use a spatula to scrape the browned bits from the bottom of the pot.
  3. Pour in the wild game stock. This will deglaze your pot and loosen the remaining bits from the bottom. Stir in the Cajun seasoning, thyme, oregano, bay leaves, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce, tomatoes, and tomato paste. Allow the mixture to simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. In the last minute, stir in the green onions.
  4. Bring a cast iron pan to medium-high heat. While you are waiting, coat each catfish fillet with butter and amply season each side of the fillets with the Cajun seasoning.
  5. Carefully add the oil when the pan begins the slightly smoke. Place the fillets in the pan. Disable the smoke alarms if needed. The spices will smoke and the pepper will become potent. If you cannot fit all the fillets at once, plan to work in batches.
  6. This is the important part. Do not fully flip the fillets for 2-3 minutes. You can check the crispiness of the spice layer on the bottom of the fillets, but do not flip too early. You want the spices to become mostly blackened before flipping. Once you are comfortable with the level of char, flip the fillet and allow to cook for an additional 2-3 minutes on the other side.
  7. Once fully cooked, plate the Creole sauce, add your catfish, and the garnish with fresh parsley and a lemon wedge. You can add rice, but I prefer to use French bread to sop up the remaining sauce.

Serving size

3-4

Time to make

45 minutes

Ingredients

Creole Sauce
3 tbsp. butter
3 tbsp. flour
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 cup celery, diced
1 tbsp. oil
2 cups wild game stock (or chicken stock)
2 tbsp. Cajun seasoning (such as Tacticalories Dirty South)
2 tsp. fresh oregano, minced
2 tsp. fresh thyme, minced
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp. Tabasco sauce
3 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 tbsp. tomato paste
3 green onions (scallions), thinly sliced

Blackened Catfish
2 lb. catfish fillets
2 tbsp. butter, room temp
2 tbsp. Cajun seasoning
1 tbsp. oil

Also works with

Any firm, flaky fish

Special equipment

Dutch oven/heavy-bottom pot, cast iron pan