Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Cajun Catfish! Tastes Fried but it's Baked and Healthy

Baked not fried - but you'd never know it!

My friend Chef Bobo is passionate about healthy eating.  He is the Executive Chef and Food Service Director at the Calhoun School in Manhattan.  He is commited to introducing food that appeals to the children at his school and to instill healthy eating habits that will stay with them throughout their lives.  Chef was even a guest of Michelle Obama at the White House garden.  There's a garden on the rooftop of the Calhoun School and Chef uses fresh herbs and other produce grown there to serve the students at lunch.  He told me about a popular favorite at the school: Cajun Catfish.  I cooked it last night.  Not only is it easy to prepare - it's delicious!  And economical - the piece I used last night cost $2.50.

First you marinate catfish in buttermilk with a teaspoon of Tabasco Sauce.  I marinated it for about an hour.  I found low fat buttermilk.

Next assemble the dry ingredients (complete recipe below).

When the dry ingredients are assembled add oil so it becomes a paste.  Slather the paste on both sides of the filet - pressing down to be sure the mixture sticks.

The recipe calls for spraying a non-stick pan with Pam or equivalent cooking spray.  I was out of cooking spray and rubbed canola oil along the bottom of the pan with a paper towel (the recipe calls for safflower oil which I didn't have either.  Safflower oil is very healthy and is worth finding).  I flipped the filet over about half way through so both sides would be golden brown.

I topped with sliced lemons and popped it back in the oven while I set the table.

Et viola!

Here's the recipe and instructions along with an introduction by Chef Bobo (aka Robert W. Surles).  Here's a link to his cookbook


One of our chef’s at Calhoun, Ilya Malachias, introduced this fish entrée when I was asking the chefs to exploring “oven frying” fish and chicken instead of deep frying. This catfish dish was such a hit!  Flavorful and crispy, serve it with the tarragon tartar sauce and a little squeeze of fresh lemon.

1   lb Catfish fillets
1  cup Buttermilk
1  tspn Tabasco Sauce
            1  cup dried Bread Crumbs
1   tbsp dried thyme
1   tbsp dry mustard
1   tspn garlic powder
1    tspn onion powder
1    tspn paprika
1    tbsp salt
1   tspn ground black pepper
¼ cup Safflower Oil
1  Fresh Lemon, sliced

Cooking Spray


1.            Preheat your oven to 350ºF.  Spray a cooking sheet with the cooking spray.
2.            Add the tabasco sauce to the buttermilk and put the catfish fillets in the buttermilk.
3.            In a separate bowl combine the bread crumbs with all the seasonings and then mix in the safflower oil.
4.            One at a time remove the fish fillets from the buttermilk, let the excess milk drain off. Dredge the fish thoroughly in the bread crumbs and pat the fillet to make sure the crumbs are well attached.  Lay each fillet, when breaded on the prepared cookie sheet.
5.            When all fillets are breaded put into the preheated oven.  Cook until the coating begins to turn a golden brown, about 20 minutes.
6.            Remove from the oven and serve garnished with fresh lemon slices.

Chef Bobo with students at the Calhoun School.

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