I am a huge fan of Southern food. Unfortunately it’s not what we would deem healthy food or eating “clean.” I mean let’s get real…lard, roux, fried chicken…yum! (But not yum for my thighs.) However there is hope in the Southern world…seafood. As long as it’s not floured, battered and fried. So I drew inspiration from my time traveling (aka eating) through New Orleans and I remember devouring this beautiful blackened catfish. It was one of the only things I ate that wasn’t deep-fried or drenched in some decadent sauce. Blackening seasoning is perfect for keeping things healthy because it’s extremely flavorful, spicy and does not require a lot of fat (virtually none in this recipe).
I looked at many different recipes for blackening seasoning and ended combining all of them into my own blend. What makes my blackening seasoning a little different is the addition of hot Hungarian paprika. It adds heat similar to cayenne but also a smoky note. It’s not to be missed! I prefer the brand Szeged Hot Hungarian Paprika. I would recommend doubling the recipe for the seasoning mix so you can have some leftover and toss it into a jar . You’ll find yourself sprinkling it on so many things…chicken, steak, potatoes, rice pilaf, shrimp, pork chops, sweet potatoes, zucchini. The list goes on.
I know some people are thinking catfish…ewwww. Catfish has received a bad reputation for quite a while. One reason is that 90% of catfish used to be imported from Asia and was not raised in healthy or humane way. Second, people claimed that it had a muddy or dirty taste. I have not had this experience with catfish but I also make sure to purchase sustainably-raised, domestic catfish. According to the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch it’s considered a “best choice” when it comes to purchasing sustainable seafood. So try some catfish. If you’re still totally grossed out then you can substitute sole, cod, haddock or halibut.
I paired the blackened catfish with Joe’s Slaw. Who the hell is Joe you may ask? Joe refers to Joe’s Stone Crab, probably my favorite restaurant in Chicago. Joe’s is most well known for their stone crab claws but what they should be known for is their coleslaw. I’m not joking their coleslaw is out of control delicious. It’s thinly sliced cabbage coated in a tangy dressing of apple cider vinegar and sugar. It also includes sweet pickle relish and just a little bit of mayo and they serve it up with big wedges of ripe tomatoes.
This slaw is one of my favorites because it’s more vinegar based than the typical mayo-laden kind. But there’s just a hint of mayonnaise so you can enjoy the creaminess without the guilt. I have so much guilt when it comes to mayo because I love it. I am a mayo-obsessed girl. I like it on everything…sandwiches, French fries, elotes, tuna salad. Mayo lover. Sorry, back to the slaw. It’s simply perfect. The only tweak I make to the original recipe is I substitute the sugar in recipe with honey (that happens to come from my best friend’s farm) and I leave out the tomatoes since they are not in season right now. Lastly, I add some freshly chopped dill to play off the sweet pickle relish and to complement the seafood. This slaw is so good you won’t want any other kind, plus it’s even better the next day. Don’t forget to season heavily with salt and pepper and allow it to sit in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld. For reals.
I am confident in saying that this is definitely one of the easiest recipes on Fork My Life. It supports my theory that eating healthy doesn’t have to be bland or boring. It can be inspiring, interesting and intense. Blackened Catfish and Joe’s Slaw is so incredibly flavorful that it will become one of your favorite meals to throw into the rotation.
- 4 tbsp paprika
- 2 tbsp hot Hungarian paprika
- 2 tsp cayenne pepper
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- 2 tsp dried thyme
- 4 fillets (about 1½#) catfish
- 1 small head of cabbage, thinly sliced
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp lemon juice (plus more wedges for serving)
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1 tbsp pickle relish
- 2 tbsp mayonnaise
- 1 tbsp fresh dill, finely chopped
- Blackening Seasoning: Mix together paprika, hot Hungarian paprika, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, dried oregano and thyme. Set aside.
- Coleslaw: In a large bowl combine the apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, honey, pickle relish and mayonnaise. Season with salt and pepper.
- Add the sliced cabbage and stir to combine. Sprinkle with dill. Season again with salt and pepper. Let the flavors combine in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
- Catfish: Heat a large cast iron pan over medium heat. Spray the cast iron pan heavily with cooking spray. You can also substitute canola, grapeseed or another vegetable oil.
- Season the catfish fillets with salt then rub the blackening seasoning into the catfish. It should be heavily seasoned.
- Place the catfish fillets into the cast iron pan. Cook for 3-4 minutes per side until lightly blackened and cooked through.
- Serve the catfish fillet with coleslaw and a lemon wedge.