There seems to be a month for everything, now, and August is National Farmed Catfish Month*. Farmed catfish, raised properly, is sustainable, so a popular choice with watchdog organizations such as the Monterey Bay Aquarium. But with feed prices rising and global imports increasing, the farmed fish industry in this country is in the tank (ouch!). My inclination is to support the U.S. product, due to what I hope are more sustainable aquaculture practices.
The Catfish Institute website is full of information and menu ideas, such as celebrity chef Rick Moonen’s Catfish Sloppy Joes. Or you could make my current summer fave, Fish Tacos. I’ve been buying tilapia for this, but catfish is a great idea, so I’ll try it next time. Here’s my recipe:Fish Tacos
(Feel free to grill the fish if you prefer.)
Makes 8 tacos
1 pound catfish fillets (or other firm white fish)
3/4 cups fine cornmeal
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon chile powder
1/4 teaspoon cumin
Vegetable oil for frying
8 corn tortillas, heated (yes, you can use flour, but corn is best)
Cut fish into 8 more or less equal pieces. Sprinkle them with juice from half a lime and let sit 10 minutes. Cut rest of lime into wedges for serving.
Mix cornmeal with salt, pepper, and chile powder to taste in shallow dish or pie plate. Coat fillets with cornmeal, then sauté in a large heavy skillet on each side in 1/2 inch of oil until golden, turning once. Do two or more batches, keeping cooked fish in warm oven on a paper towel.
Place each piece of fillet into a heated corn tortilla, squirt with lime, and add your choice of toppings, which might include avocado or guacamole, shredded cabbage, chipotle aïoli (mayo mixed with chipotle pepper), green salsa, sour cream.
* August is also National Sandwich Month. Hmmm, you could also take that fillet and slap it on a bun with tartar sauce…