Catfish With Chili Cornmeal Crust and Sweetpepper, Corn & Bacon Relish
This is a popular recipe at Lucia’s, sometimes served around the opening of walleye season. Of course, we do the recipe with walleye then, but I think catfish works even better and should be even more popular around North America. Nice-sized crappie fillets work well, too. The sweet pepper, corn, and bacon relish is a classic with any fried fish, particularly during summer when the corn and peppers are fresh and super-sweet. Horseradish Sour Cream Sauce is another good choice.
To serve one or two . . .
2 fillets, about 8 oz. each, rinsed in cold water and patted dry
1/2 c. cornmeal
1/2 c. flour
1/4 tsp. chili powder
1/2 c. fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper
2 tbsp. vegetable oil or bacon fat or an inch of oil in a deeper
pan for deep frying
* Combine the cornmeal, flour, chili powder, salt and pepper. Dip each fillet in lemon juice then the cornmeal mixture, carefully dusting each side of the fillets.
* Heat the fat in a heavy-bottomed skillet until it just starts to smoke. Put the fillets in the fat and cook about 5 minutes until golden brown.
* Turn the fillets and continue to cook about 5 minutes on the other side. If deep frying, cook the fillets without turning, about 7 to 8 minutes or until golden brown.
* Remove fish to plate and garnish with the warm sweet relish.
Sweet Pepper, Corn & Bacon Relish
1/2 each green, red, and yellow pepper, seeded and diced, about 2 c. total
1 small red onion, diced
3 slices bacon, finely diced
2 ears corn (slice kernels off cobs), about 2 c.
1 tbsp. fresh thyme
1 tbsp. fresh chives
* Place the bacon in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Cook until the fat starts to render and the bacon gets crispy.
* Immediately add peppers, onion and corn. Cook over high heat stirring constantly, until the veggies are still crispy but warmed through.
* Add the herbs and taste for final seasoning.
Horseradish Sour Cream Sauce
1 c. sour cream
2 heaping tbsp. prepared horseradish
juice of 1/2 lemon
salt and pepper
* Mix all ingredients.