When you are married to a Southern man, catfish is one of those things that are inevitable in life. Personally I was a little afraid of catfish. I had this visual image in my head of a giant fish with whiskers, and for all I know, that is actually what catfish DO look like before they make it to the seafood counter at the supermarket. Or maybe they look like this.
Only with fins. One way or the other, I procrastinated as long as possible. And then one day I ran across this recipe, which involved both shrimp and vermouth cream sauce, along with some deep-frying, and I figured it was now or never. So off I went to Fairway, where catfish was on sale (yes!!) and picked some up. It looked like, well, fish. This recipe calls for coating the catfish in a milk/egg/flour batter and frying it until it is golden and beautiful. Then you quickly saute some nice big shrimp in garlic and butter, and finish up by whisking some vermouth, lemon juice and cream into the shrimp drippings until you have a gorgeous thick sauce. A little red pepper for some zing, and then you are ready to assemble. Catfish, topped with shrimp, topped with sauce, topped with some chopped scallions. I put some roasted string beans on the side, invited the grandparents for dinner and it was catfish time.
Here is how I felt after taking just one bite.
I guess you can teach an old dog new tricks. Or an old cat. Or something. Or maybe the moral of the story is, cream sauce and deep-frying making everything right with the world. One way or the other, I’ll be making this one again…give it a try. In the meantime, Happy New Year to all of you, and I’ll be back next year. See you then!
CATFISH CLASSIQUE, from Southern Living Homestyle Cooking