Cajun-Spiced Catfish Fillets

Main Course

Recipe courtesy of The Williams-Sonoma Cookbook

Serves 4

  • 4 catfish fillets, 6-8 oz (185-250 g) each
  • 5 Tbsp (3 fl oz/80 ml) extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for coating Cajun Spice Rub (below)
  • 1 strip applewood-smoked bacon, finely diced
  • 8 handfuls baby spinach leaves or baby arugula leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • ½-1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cajun Spice Rub:

This rub adds contrasting color and a spicy taste to mild white catfish. The salt in the rub helps the spices to penetrate the flesh of the fish and imbue it with flavor. To make this rub, in a small bowl, combine 1 tsp sea salt, 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper, ½ tsp cayenne pepper, 1 Tbsp sweet Hungarian paprika, 1 tsp fennel seeds, toasted and ground, and 1 tsp dried thyme, crumbled. Makes enough to coat 4 large fish fillets.

Cajun-Spiced Catfish Fillets

Click image to enlarge



Place the catfish filets in a glass or ceramic dish and coat them on both sides with oil. Spread a scant teaspoonful of the spice rub on both sides of each fillet, coating the filets evenly. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Coat a large, heavy, oven proof frying pan with oil and heat over medium-high heat until the oil shimmers. Add the catfish and cook until opaque throughout, about 2 minutes on each side. Transfer the pan to a low (200°F/95°C) oven to keep the fish warm.

In a separate nonreactive frying pan over medium heat, cook the bacon until crisp. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to paper towels to drain. Place the greens in a large bowl. Add the 5 Tbsp oil to the pan with the bacon fat and heat until the surface shimmers. Add the garlic and sauté until barely golden, about 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the vinegar and ½ Tbsp lemon juice, stir, and pour over the greens in the bowl. Toss well to wilt the greens. Season with salt, black pepper, and additional lemon juice, to taste. Quickly divide the greens among 4 warmed plates, top each with a catfish filet, and sprinkle with ¼ of the cooked bacon. Serve at once.


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