Sunday, March 5, 2023

Smothered Catfish Etouffée

Nicely seasoned whole catfish fillets, pan seared, then smothered in an etouffée gravy and served over rice, noodles, mashed potatoes or grits.

Smothered Catfish Etouffée

Can you take another etouffée? Oh my goodness, yes. We do "smother" a lot of different foods down south!
  • The most commonly known smothered dish is probably, Crawfish Etouffée. Even folks visiting our area are probably most familiar with this dish. Delish and great served with a nice blackened catfish too.
  • Lesser known but popular locally is this shortcut Shrimp Etouffee, and let's just say I was very surprised when a friend from Louisiana shared this little shortcut secret!
Of course, seafood isn't the only thing we smother!

There's Pork Chop EtoufféeCreole Smothered Pork Chops and Smothered Pork Chops with Cream Gravy. There's beef too, like Smothered Steak and Smothered Creole Swiss Steak.

Smothered Chicken and Fricassee too, and yes, even vegetables.
And on. And on! And trust me, it will here on Deep South Dish.

But this time we're going with fish, or more specifically, catfish, though you can certainly smother other fish.
Just a quick reminder.... this is a blog, not just a "recipe site," and yes, there is a difference! I want to first thank all of you who have supported my work over the years, but if you aren't interested in the chit chat, info, photos, tips and such in a post, as always, you'll find the complete recipe text with measurements and instructions, as well as a printable document, a little bit further down the page. Just swipe or scroll down to the bottom of the post!
Now, just like with everything else we cook in the south, everybody here does their own thing when it comes to smothered catfish. 

Some folks dredge and fry the catfish just as you would if serving fried fish. Then they either plate the fish and pour the gravy over the top or nestle the fried catfish in the etouffée to warm through and coat in the gravy before plating.

When topped with a crawfish etouffée, this prep is known locally as Catfish Atchafalaya, famous at Drew Brees' Walk-On Sports Bistreaux restaurant.

Personally, I prefer to just season and then pan sear the fish without any coating, prepare the etouffée gravy and return the catfish to the gravy to finish and grab some of the gravy flavor.

Sometimes smothered catfish is served over rice or noodles, sometimes mashed potatoes and sometimes, even spooned over grits. When I started this dish, I actually intended to serve my catfish over grits, but then I couldn't find them!

You see, my favorite grits now are stone-ground and they're a bit perishable, so I keep them in the freezer. When Dad passed away recently, my sister-in-law offered up the seafood that he had put up in the freezer, so in a frantic rearrangement of the freezer to accommodate some seafood, I had relocated my grits in there, somewhere and now I can't find them.

If you follow this website, you may remember my experience with doing that with my immersion blender and hand mixer recently! What can I say? I just went ahead and rearranged my subscription delivery and ordered some more.

Such is life, right?!

Here's how to make my Smothered Catfish.

Rinse fish and pat dry. As always, I recommend purchasing seafood that is locally sourced and not foreign imported. For most seafood, that would be wild-caught and in this case for catfish, that would be U.S. farm-raised catfish. We're are pretty famous for our Mississippi farm-raised catfish.

For seasoning, you'll need your favorite all-purpose seasoned salt (like Lawry's), black pepper, and I like adding some Old Bay seasoning and a Creole or Cajun seasoning. I'm using Tony's Chachere's Bold Creole seasoning today.

Today for my all-purpose seasoning, I decided to use some of this seasoning blend from Morton called Nature's Seasons which contains salt, pepper, onion and garlic, parsley, celery seed and unspecified spices.

It's funny, because I kept putting garlic powder on my delivery grocery list and kept getting a last minute "unavailable" right before my order was to arrive. Finally a shopper substituted this for the ever-allusive garlic powder. I didn't understand that substitution at all, but it was a happy accident because I've grown to really like this seasoning!

Which brings to mind, was there a big run on garlic powder I didn't know about??

I use a lot of fresh garlic, but I also use garlic powder pretty often, I finally ended up ordering a large Badia brand garlic powder through my subscriptions on Amazon, which ended up being a more powdered than granular form of garlic powder. I have grown to adore this line of seasonings through this post-pandemic supply chain challenge, so check them out sometime!

Season fish generously on both sides with whatever seasoning you are using, or just good ole salt and pepper, with a little Old Bay and Creole or Cajun seasoning. 

Heat 1/2 cup cooking oil and a tablespoon butter in a large skillet over medium high heat until shimmering. Reduce to medium. Add fish to hot oil and cook for 4 minutes.

Turn and cook another 3 minutes. 

Turn over and remove to a plate and tent to keep warm.

Add the onion and bell pepper to the drippings and cook until tender, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook another minute.

Sprinkle in flour, a little at a time, stirring constantly until fully incorporated. 

Cook, stirring regularly, for 5 minutes or longer for a darker roux. I'm gonna cheat a teeny bit.

Begin stirring in 3 cups of the stock or water if using a base, until fully incorporated, adding the additional stock as needed for desired consistency.

Today I'm using water with this Mrs. Miller's chicken flavored soup base instead of stock.

It's another product that I've tried recently and fallen in love with from Mrs. Miller's brand - along with those gorgeous noodles I've talked about before. The jams and jellies rock too by the way.

You don't really want a super dark roux for etouffee anyway, and I really wasn't feeling it today, so a couple dashes of Kitchen Bouquet will give a little extra color and flavor, if you're so inclined and if it's a pantry item you already have. We use it a lot down here. Add a couple splashes and blend in.

Taste and adjust seasonings accordingly.

Return fish to skillet, flat side up to coat, turn rounded side up. 

Spoon some of the gravy over the top of the fish, cover and cook on a low simmer for about15 minutes.

To serve, use a wide spatula to carefully transfer whole fillets over noodles, mashed potatoes, grits or hot steamed rice. Garnish with an additional sprinkle of Creole or Cajun seasoning and parsley.

For more of my favorite fish recipes, check out this collection on my Pinterest page!

Unable to view the printable below on your device? Tap/click here.

Posted by on March 5, 2023
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