A Catfish Fry!

Thinking more on the tastes in Richtee’s rub I decided it might go
well on catfish.Whilst not a smoked product… time in the outdoor
kitchen with the fryer going full tilt is still good time!And so I set
out to put together a little catfish fry complete with a modified Sylvia Woods
hush puppy offering.If you have never picked up a copy of Sylvia’s Soul
Food cookbook… it has many many soul food favorites in it.And they are
classics, the nice thing about the classics is you can modify them when you want
to since they are very adaptable.

First I divide up the remaining Richtee rub.I like one third the
seasoning in the under coat on fish as I do on the top coat.Basically I
learned in Albany Georgia to coat with season flour, egg wash, coat with final
seasoned flour and cornmeal.This method offers excellent adhesion for the
coating.

One word about catfish, an old southern gentleman showed me how to prepare them.
You really need to get the water out of them.In the commercial kitchen I
use a squeezing mop bucket (one dedicated only to food obviously) to squish the
water out of the fish.Works great. here at home I just put the fish in
some paper towels and squeeze the water out of them with a rolling pin.
Mild pressure will remove a lot of water without mashing the fish into fish
meal.The more water out, the better the final product will hold its
coating.

To start with I have some nice 1/3 pound boneless catfish fillets.My
prep set up contains, first dredge of 1.5 cups milled flour, salt, pepper, and
1/4 cup Richtee’s rub. then the egg wash consisting of two eggs and 1/4 cup of
water, then the final coating which is 1 cup corn meal, 1 cup milled flour, and
1/3 cup Richtee’s rub and some course black pepper.

This set up is ready to roll.Now to prepare the hush puppies.
For this I am using 1 cup of corn meal, half a cup of milled flour, 2 tbsp of baking
powder, 2 tsp of salt, 2/3 cup of milk, and 1.5 Tbsp of oil.After I have
that mixed in I add in my part of the recipe, 1.5 cups of a mix of white and
yellow sweet corn, with a 1/4 cup of pimento diced, 1/4 cup of diced onion, and
a 1/4 cup of diced green bell pepper.

Now that everything is prepared we are ready to head outdoors for the frying.
I like to fry outside in my turkey fryer.It keeps the mess out of the
house.And it allows me to fry like I am at the commercial kitchen.
Most home fryers can not keep up with the BTU loss that food places on the oil.
A turkey fryer can keep up with almost anything you through at it.I keep
a thermometer in the unit to ensure I am at my 350 F to 400 F frying point and
start to fry.

I don’t know if you have ever had the chance to eat hushpuppies, if you have
not you are missing out on one of life’s simplest pleasures.You can snack
these down til you will pop when they are prepared correctly!These came
out excellent.Cover and rest for 15 minutes while we cook the fish.

Now notice the background color that Richtee’s rub added nice red speckles in
the fish coating and two layers of it at that!This is what I love about
cooking, I don’t want to cover the food up with spice, I want to enhance that
natural sweetness of the catfish and then augment that with just a little zip
and surprise to it.

Be patient, remember the fish will continue to cook after it comes out of the
hot oil, so I generally cook it for 6 minutes.Depends a little on
thickness, but 6 to 8 minutes is usually all it needs, along with a 7 minute
rest to drain and steam.Finally is it completed, pull to cover off the
hushpuppies, crack an icy cold one and enjoy.Thought I have to admit I am
a malt vinegar nut, so that is on the table as well!

All and all the rub made a very nice backgrounder for the catfish.The
Cayenne pepper is there gently reminding you that things are happening in your
mouth, but the sweet meat that is catfish is coming through loud and clear.
I would say this rub is an excellent fish fry spice./p>

’til we talk again, fry some up…. it don’t get any better!

Chef Bob Ballantyne
The Cowboy and The Rose Catering
Grand Junction, Colorado, USA

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