Now, there are so many ways to serve blackened fish. Some like it with a Cajun maque choux, some with a Creole red sauce and some prefer the French influenced crusty appeal of a seasoned au gratin. To me, it really doesn’t matter as long as the blackening seasoning balances with the fish. Many folks think of Cajun as being overly spicy when in truth, this is far from what true Acadian style Cajun cooking is at all. Spices should bring about the natural flavors of the food prepared, not overpower. I think this recipe does just that in bringing out the very light, mild flavor catfish with a hint of sweetness from the white fillets.
As for the sauce; this is probably the easiest étouffée sauce I have made and is very bright in flavor yet mild enough to meld all components of grits, blackened fish, and the shrimp sauce together. As with any complex tasting recipe, be sure to have all vegetables chopped, shrimp peeled and stock ready to use; have the spice mixture ready, butter melted and have everything right by the stove so that when you start, it all comes together effortlessly.
For any of you that have tried or have a desire to try my recipes and if you like fish and shrimp with a flavorful sauce, I know you will love making and serving this one. Double the recipe for 4 folks. Enjoy!
Blackened Catfish with Shrimp Étouffée Sauce
Blackened catfish with a homemade Cajun seasoning and topped with a shrimp étouffée sauce.
2 servings (double recipe for 4)
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon dried crushed oregano
- 1/8 teaspoon dried crushed thyme
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 1 medium bell pepper, finely chopped
- 1 stalk of celery, finely chopped
- 2 garlic toes (cloves), smashed and minced
- 4 ounces (1 stick) butter
- 2 ounces cooking oil or shortening
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 cup shrimp stock
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1 pound shrimp, peeled, deveined
- 1/2 cup green onions
- 2 -7 to 9 ounce fresh catfish filets
- 6 tablespoons of butter, melted
- Blackened seasoning
- Shortening (Crisco)
Dry both sides of the fillets with paper towels. Lightly salt both sides of the fillets. Place on a wire rack until ready to cook.
make the Shrimp Étouffée Sauce
Heat a medium sized sauté pan over medium high heat. Add butter and oil and when butter is melted, add onion, bell pepper, celery and garlic. Sauté for 10 minutes or until onions are clear. Sprinkle in the flour, and stir to make a blonde roux, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the tomato paste and mix well. Stir in the shrimp and chicken stocks; season with salt and pepper to taste and simmer for about 10 minutes to thicken stirring often. Add shrimp and cook 3 minutes. Turn off heat. Cover to keep warm. Add a little water if the consistency becomes too thick. Stir in half of the green onions right before plating.
sauté the catfish
Dredge each filet in the melted butter. Coat with blackened seasoning to taste. Lightly coat a large heavy iron skillet with the shortening and wipe excess with paper towel. Place skillet over medium high heat and when hot (slightly smoking), place fillets into the skillet. BE SURE TO HAVE EXHAUST FANS ON! Brown each side for about 7 minutes. Serve with shrimp étouffée on top and sprinkle remaining green onions on top of sauce.
Plate on a bed of creamy stone-ground grits or long grain white rice.
Notes: To make an easy Shrimp Stock, simmer the shells and heads of shrimp along with a little seasoning salt, 1 1/2 cups of water and 1/2 cup sherry. Reduce to 1 cup. Strain stock through a fine mesh sieve and discard shells.
To avoid smoking up the kitchen, fry fillets in several tablespoons of the shortening. It will lose some of the blackened seasoning but still taste great.