First things first: while I'm not a total hater when it comes to mayonnaise, particularly when either (a) it's homemade, or (b) it's mixed with so many things you can't actually taste it, I don't love it, I frequently don't have it on hand, and if a recipe allows for it, I'll substitute olive oil, yogurt, or cream cheese. Generally I really like housemade tartar sauce at restaurants, however, so I figured I'd go ahead and follow this four-fork-winning mayo-based tartar sauce recipe from Epicurious.com. But then I didn't have mayo. And I didn't have like half the ingredients. So the tartar sauce recipe that I used and which is typed up below is really the result of necessary resourcefulness, not an attempt to improve the original, which is, quite frankly, probably better. Having said that, my yogurt version was not bad. So if you're out of or oppose mayo, this is for you.
Anyway, this was a good weeknight meal. There's nothing sensational about catfish, but it's inexpensive and I wanted fish the night we made these. I cleaned my plate and MC went for seconds.
Those are its selling points. It's good in a simple way. But not exceptional a la chocolate caramel tart or best-ever nachos.
Cornmeal & Potato Chip Crusted Catfish
Adapted from Kitchen Sense by Mitchell Davis
Yield: enough catfish for 3-4 sandwiches
3/4 to 1 pound catfish (2 medium sized fillets)
1/2 cup stone-ground yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup potato chip crumbs (mine were salt & pepper flavored and I think that added something)
Salt & pepper (I omitted this because of flavored chips)
1/3 cup flour
1/4 cup bacon fat, lard, unsalted butter, vegetable oil, or combination (I used the rest of the sausage drippings from brunch and some butter)
Rinse the catfish with cold water and pat dry with paper towels. (Unless you don't have paper towels, then you can just skip this step...) On a plate, combine the cornmeal, potato chip crumbs, salt and pepper (if using), and mix well. In a small bowl, beat the egg with 1 tablespoon cold water and a pinch of salt. On another plate, pour the flour and spread out so it covers most of the plate. Dredge the catfish fillets in the flour and tap off any excess. Dip them in the egg and then coat both sides in the cornmeal mixture. Set aside.
In a large frying pan, heat the fat over medium-high heat. When quite hot, add the catfish. Fry until the undersides of the fillets are nicely browned around the edges and crisp, about 6 minutes. With a large spatula, carefully flip the catfish and fry until brown and cooked through, another 5 minutes or so. When done, let cool on a plate for a minute or two before assembling your sandwiches.
Yogurt-Based Tartar Sauce
Adapted from Epicurious
Yield: about 3/4 cup
1/2 cup plain yogurt
2-3 tablespoons finely chopped pickles
2 tablespoons chopped green onions
2 tablespoons drained capers
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
dash of Worcestershire sauce and dash of Sriracha
salt & pepper to taste
Mix everything and adjust salt & pepper to your liking. Place in refrigerator for an hour or more to let flavors marry a bit.
White bread or hamburger buns
Tomatoes, but only if they are really fresh and delicious
Pepper jack or other cheese of choice or convenience
Assemble and enjoy!