I am not a fried food fan. First of all, it’s fattening, (I am always wanting to lose 5 lbs.) and of course too much of it is not good for you. However, usually once a year I make fried chicken for a dinner picnic and I also adore fried catfish. Must be the Missouri in me.
Actually one of my most memorable meals was a just-caught fried catfish in Missouri at Pere Marquette Lodge. My parents were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary and flew everyone home and treated us all to a weekend at the resort. We used to go there for a quick vacation when we were kids so a reunion back there was memorable. And we did all the same things, except with our own kids – horseback riding, shuffleboard, playing the giant chess game, and swimming – and the best fried catfish dinner that tasted so good after all that outdoor activity. So last Friday night, I almost replicated the catfish, but served it as a dinner salad as Fried Catfish atop a Baby Kale Salad with Sautéed Radishes and Japanese Turnips. It was so good!!! The only thing it lacked was the just-caught freshness of the fish. It was very fresh, and it was very good, but not just-caught, if you know what I mean. That’s different and unless you’ve had it, you just don’t know. Everyone should have a just-caught cooked fish on their bucket list, because it can’t be beat!
This is not a particularly quick dinner. I made this on a Friday night when there’s more time. Make sure your oil is hot enough – a bit of flour as a test should really sizzle. This insures that your fish doesn’t absorb any or very little of the oil. Use canola oil as opposed to olive oil as you can get it hotter without smoking. Intellectually, I tried to balance the fried aspect with the healthy raw baby kale and you can opt to use the radishes and turnips raw but I like a little bit of warmth to mix in with the cool greens. And my radishes had been around for a week so I needed to liven them up. Feel free to work with any combination of vegetables to suit your taste, but this was a good one.
Now I understand and hear from other sources that a lot of you have been making my recipes and I want to hear from you! I know a lot of people read food blogs to be inspired but never actually make the recipes. So if you’re making them and have success, please let me know. If you have problems, please let me know, because that means I’m not doing my job. And I want to do my job, which is to help you cook healthier food easier, with LOVE, in order to live a life with boundless energy.
FRIED CATFISH ATOP A BABY KALE SALAD WITH SAUTEED RADISHES AND JAPANESE TURNIPS – serves 2
4 oz. baby kale, washed, air dried and chilled
1 bunch of Japanese white turnips, scrubbed, sliced and chopped
8 breakfast radishes, scrubbed and sliced (or regular radishes)
1 tbs. unsalted butter
3 scallions, white and light green parts, sliced
16 cherry and sunny gold tomatoes, washed and sliced in half
2 catfish fillets
½ cup flour
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup breadcrumbs – throw day-old or even older slices of a baguette or other bread in your food processor and process to make crumbs
Canola oil – enough to cover the bottom of your skillet about 1/8 inch deep
Have all your vegetables ready for the salad. Make your dressing.
Set out three shallow pans right near your stove-top. Left to right, with your stove on the right should be your flour, the beaten eggs and the breadcrumbs.
Wash and dry the catfish fillets. Salt and pepper one side with sea salt and fresh ground pepper. Heat the canola oil until shimmering. It should be enough to cover the bottom of your skillet by about 1/8” deep. Cover the fish fillets lightly in flour and shake off. Dip in the beaten eggs and let drain and then cover in breadcrumbs and fry for 3 – 4 minutes on each side until fish flakes and you have a nice golden brown crust.
Assemble your salad arranging baby kale leaves on the bottom, distribute the scallions, warm radishes and turnips along with the tomatoes, and drizzle salad dressing over all.
When the fish is done, remove to a platter covered with paper towels and let it rest there for a minute. Then place the fish fillet on top and dig in! Serve with LOVE and enjoy!