There’s probably no more famous a fish in Southern cuisine than the catfish. These river fish are usually dredged in seasoned corn meal and fried to a crisp in peanut oil – and that’s definitely one of my favorite ways to eat them – but we’re going to take a slightly healthier approach tonight and pan-sear our fish with some flavorful spices. As a cool addition to the spicy fish, we’ve made an easy tomato and mozzarella salad, and we’re rounding out the meal with some French-style green beans. It’s a meal that has a bit of everything, and with just a small amount of preparation it can all come together quite nicely – and all of the vegetables used are beginning to appear at local farmers markets. First, let’s get our salad together:
Tomato and Mozzarella Salad
- 3-4 cups cherry or grape tomatoes
- 8 ounces small fresh mozzarella balls
- 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- coarse sea salt (or kosher salt in a pinch)
Cut your tomatoes into halves. Drain the mozzarella and add to the tomatoes. Tear the basil leaves into small pieces and mix gently with the tomatoes and cheese. Drizzle the salad with oil and sprinkle with salt, adding extra oil and salt to taste. You can serve just like that (as we are tonight) or a bit of balsamic vinegar can really add some richness to the dish.
recipe adapted from Stockton Briggle’s Good Cooking series
- 2 pounds green beans (or “snap beans,” as we said when I was a kid)
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon each butter and olive oil
- salt and pepper
Boil the green beans in salted water for about five minutes, or until the beans are tender (but not soft). Plunge the beans into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. Heat the butter and oil in a skillet and saute the beans until they are heated through; add the garlic. Keep sauteing until you can just smell the garlic start to cook; salt and pepper the beans and serve. Stockton adds a cup of chopped flat leaf parsley to this dish along with the garlic – it’s very tasty that way, I was just out of parsley tonight.
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
Melt some butter in the microwave and dip your filets into it. Coat them generously with the spice mix. Sear the filets in a hot cast-iron skillet using just enough fat to coat the bottom of the pan and cook until the fish flakes nicely with a fork. Serve everything at once, or use the salad as a first course while you finish the green beans and fish. Enjoy!