Monday, June 26, 2006

Blackened Catfish

A problem that faces many foreign cooks when overseas, is the names for ingredients. It is pretty easy to figure out that Eggplant and Aubergine is the same thing, and that Zucchini and Courgette have the same roots, but how well do you know your fish? Even if you recognize them by their eyes and scales, can you recognize any fillet except salmon on a market stall? I know I struggle. The Albert Cuypstraat market in Amsterdam boasts such beasts as tonijn(tuna), zeeduivel(monkfish) and zeebrasem(sea bream). Others are easier to guess like makreel(mackerel), zeebaars(sea bass) , and heek (hake). One that has stumped me for a few years is meerval. Meerval is the catfish, something I must say I have never cooked before living in Holland.

For more information on fish names click here.

To me, catfish is a Creole/Cajun thing, it should be blackened, and spicy. The first time I heard of Creole, was when my friend Jeff told me about Tony Chachere's seasoning. He didn't use it in food, but kept it in his fishing box in case he was stung by a jellyfish. Now, I can find no reference to this on the web, but by all accounts meat tenderizer is a good solution for the gelatinous monsters, and it shares some ingredients with Tony's. I'll give you the benefit of the doubt Jeff.

So tonight is catfish night, and instead of using Tony’s, I thought I would start from scratch. Of course the web has plenty to offer for catfish recipes, but most were American and contained things like onion powder, garlic powder, and lemon pepper (none of which are readily available in Amsterdam).

Using the following created a spicy wow dish:

  • 1 x clove of garlic

  • 1 x dried chilli

  • 1 x tablespoon of fresh thyme

  • 10 leaves of fresh basil

  • Some sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper

  • 1 x teaspoon of paprika

  • 1 x teaspoon of cayenne

  • Grind it together and rub it all over the fish, and cook on a high heat for 3 minutes each side

Be prepared to smoke the house out, and serve with really cold beer, a green salad and a slice of lemon, Mmmmmmmmmmmmm.


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