From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...February can be a difficult month in the kitchen. This year we've seen the Super Bowl, Valentine's Day, President's Day and Fat Tuesday all fall within days of each other. It's enough to make you swear off food, which, of course, is exactly what those who observe the traditional Lenten practices of fast and abstinence will begin doing next week. This year, in the lead up to Easter Sunday, I plan to feature two meatless recipes a week in the hopes that more variety can be brought to the tables of those who will be eating less meat during Lenten season. So, while I still plan to celebrate Fat Tuesday and St. Patrick's Day with gusto, we'll be making an honest effort to prepare everyday meals that can be enjoyed by all. We start a week ahead of time so you can always have two recipes in the hopper that are ready to go. Tonight's recipe is perfect for those who are trying to work more fish into their diets. The recipe is an adaption of one developed by Emeril LaGasse when he was chef at Brennan's in New Orleans. While the fish should marinate for an hour before it is fried, it can be on the table in about 20 minutes once it finishes its long soak. The recipe is straight forward, easy to make and the fish really is delicious. I have two thoughts to share with you regarding its preparation. The garlic must be coarsely chopped. Think raisin size for measuring and then give the pieces a good whack with the flat of a knife before adding them to the marinade. Fresh lemon juice is wonderful and if I were a true foodie I'd insist you use it. I'm not, so should you slip and use the stuff that comes in a bottle know that your secret is safe with me. I have one last caution to share with you and that regards the heat of the oil you use to fry the fish. In order to prevent the catfish from absorbing oil, it must be hot and stay hot while the fish cooks. The catfish should be served as soon as it comes from the pan, so any sides you are going to pair with it must also be set to go. Fish prepared in this way makes wonderful Poor Boy sandwiches. If you are not able to buy catfish, flounder and Pacific cod are excellent substitutes. This is a really lovely way to serve catfish and it is especially delicious when served with Creole Tartar Sauce. Both recipes follow.
Panfried Catfish with Lemon and Garlic...from the kitchen of On Perfect Bite adapted from Emeril LaGasse via La Belle Cuisine
4 catfish fillets (6 to 6 1/2 ounces each)
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup minced parsley
1/4 cup minced garlic
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons Creole or Cajun Spice
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1) Place catfish in a shallow bowl. Add lemon juice, parsley, garlic and 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon rub. Toss to coat catfish evenly. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
2) Combine cornmeal, flour and reserved 1 teaspoon rub in another shallow bowl. Remove catfish from marinade and dredge in cornmeal mixture, coating evenly.
3) Heat the oil in a nonstick skillet and fry for about 3 to 4 minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Serve immediately. 4 servings.
Creole Tartar Sauce
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
2 tablespoons chopped green onions
1 cup olive oil
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 tablespoon Creole or whole-grain mustard
1 teaspoon salt
Put egg, garlic, lemon juice, parsley, and green onions in a food processor and purée for 15 seconds. With processor running, pour oil through feed tube in a steady stream. Add cayenne, mustard and salt and pulse once or twice to blend. Cover and let sit for 1 hour in the refrigerator before using. Best if used within 24 hours. Makes 1- 1/3 cups.
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