Friday, June 30, 2006

Spicy Peanut-Encrusted Catfish

Fully intending to cook catfish for dinner last night, I'd set the frozen fillets on the counter to defrost as I left the house to do some grocery shopping. Life being what it sometimes is, I didn't get home until way after dark - not due to anything dire, just out in the "shopping zone" where one path can lead to another - and, needless to say, the fish didn't get cooked. Because even though we're both guilty of eating dinner as late as 10 PM, I couldn't bring myself to start cooking at 10:30 so back into the fridge they went.
At noon today, there they were, all defrosted and ready to go and I'm sure unable to withstand another day uncooked. Thinking outside the "catfish is for dinner" box, I cooked them up for a quick, protein-rich lunch, guided by organic, dry-roasted, salt-free peanuts and George Stella's Blackening Spice. Yum. So very good and it took just 15 minutes to make.
Spicy Peanut-encrusted Catfish
3 catfish fillets
1 cup dry-roasted, salt-free peanuts, chopped fine
2 tablespoons blackening spice
2 tablespoons olive oil or peanut oil
2 eggs, lightly beaten
Pre-heat oven to 400-degrees and have a baking sheet ready.
Blot fillets with paper towels until thoroughly dry. Set aside.
With a chef's knife, chop the peanuts until they're in very fine pieces. You could use a small food processor but I like to chop such a small amount with my knife, avoiding the possibility of turning them into peanut butter.
Combine the chopped peanuts and the blackening spice and place on a flat plate.
Pour the beaten eggs into a wide bowl.
Heat a cast iron skillet to medium and add the oil. The oil should just shimmer in the pan, not smoke, or you could burn the peanuts (hmmm, how do I know that...?).
Dip a fillet into the eggs to coat, then into the peanut mixture, coating both sides and pressing lightly to make the peanut pieces adhere. Repeat with the remaining fillets.
Place in the hot skillet and, keeping them from crowding each other, saute for about 5 minutes on one side then flip and saute the other side for another 5 minutes.
Remove fillets to a baking sheet and place in a 400 degree oven to finish - about 5 minutes more.

The fish was warmly spicy with a delicious peanut crunch on the outside and meltingly tender and juicy on the inside. For a perfect low-carb meal, pair this with a tomato and cucumber salad for lunch and add a vegetable or two if you're making it for dinner.
And for good measure, because herbs are used in the blackening spice (even though they're dried and not summer fresh as they should be this time of year), this will be my entry for Kalyn's Weekend Herb Blogging #39. Do pay a visit to her blog for delicious, beautifully photographed, low carb recipes, gardening delights, blogging information and informative writing.