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Creole Catfish With Chili Corn Sauce

This recipe came from the late Chef Jamie Shannon, who ruled the kitchens at Commander’s Palace throughout the 1990s. He was among the most likeable people ever to work in the local restaurant business, and was held in high regard by everyone he worked with. He died at a mere forty years old from a freak ailment. He loved the taste of fresh corn, which matches the flavors of seafood exactly. Here’s a great example of his simply wonderful food.

  • Sauce:
  • 1 qt. heavy cream
  • 5 ears of corn, cut (save cobs for sauce)
  • 4 oz. butter
  • 1 red pepper, finely diced
  • 1 green pepper, finely diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, finely diced
  • 2 shallots, finely diced
  • 1 cup tequila
  • 2 Tbs. fresh chopped parsley
  • 1 bunch green onions, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 lbs. catfish fillets, the smaller the better (cut them if very large)
  • 2 Tbs. Creole seasoning
  • 3 Tbs. Creole mustard
  • 2 cups cornmeal
  • 2 Tbs. salt
  • 2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 cup vegetable oil

Catfish

1. Make the sauce first. Put the corn cobs with the cream into a saucepan, and reduce the cream over medium-low heat by one half.

2. In another saucepan, heat one ounce of butter and saute bell peppers, garlic, shallots, and fresh corn until translucent. Add tequila and (if you’re comfortable with this, careful, and have taken safety precautions) flame it. (Otherwise, just bring it to a light boil for two minutes.)

3. Strain cream into other ingredients and simmer for 15 minutes. Add parsley, green onions, salt and pepper. Whisk remaining butter into sauce. Keep the sauce warm.

4. Rub Creole mustard and seasonings on catfish fillets and marinate for an hour.

5. Season the cornmeal with the salt and pepper. Dredge the catfish in the cornmeal. Don’t worry that not as much will stick as usual

6. Heat the oil in a heavy skillet until grains of cornmeal sizzle in it. Fry the catfish, turning once, till golden brown. Allow the oil to recover heat between batches.

Place the sauce on a plate and top with the fried catfish.

Serves four to six.

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