Now that August is basically over, here is my last chance to mention that it’s been National Catfish Month across this great, chowing-down, eater’s paradise of ours. Back in the late 1980s, the month of August was officially designated by mysterious entities as National Catfish Month. Today, seafood consumption in the United States exceeds 4.9 billion pounds annually and more catfish is now produced on a yearly basis in the United States than all other farmed fish combined. Personally, I’ll eat Catfish any way you serve it: blackened, broiled, grilled, poached or pan fried. At one time catfish was regarded as only a Southern staple. Times have changed. Diners nationwide have doubled their waistlines and their per capita consumption of Catfish since 1986, becoming the fourth most popular fish served in the United States.
Another thing, ninety-four percent of all Farm-Raised Catfish harvested in this country is from family-owned farms; many of these growers are second or third generation farmers. Today, the farm-raised Catfish industry employs more than 13,000 people and contributes more than $4 billion to the economy of states like Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas and Louisiana.
Catfish is also a lean fish and is an excellent source of protein, low in saturated fat and is a moderate source of polyunsaturated (the good) fat and omega-3 fatty acids. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, moderate fish consumption -- one to two meals a week -- may cut the risk of sudden cardiac death in half.
Anyway, why am I writing about catfish? Sometimes between art and movies and music you have to eat, and it might as well be something that isn’t absolute crap. Here is a great recipe from The Catfish Institute. So, throw on some good music (personally I’d go more old-school, maybe some Clifton Chenier), open up the right bottle of beer, maybe an Abita Amber, and enjoy some Catfish with a spicy fireworks rub. Bon Appetit!
Catfish with Spicy Fireworks Rub
Serves 4, this recipe makes enough spice rub to keep in your pantry and use many more times throughout the grilling season. (Sidenote: You can store the fireworks rub in a dark cupboard, away from heat; it will keep for two to three months.)
¼ cup (50 mL) chili powder
¼ cup (50 mL) ground cumin
¼ cup (50 mL) ground coriander
2 tbsp (30 mL) packed brown sugar
1 tbsp (15 mL) salt
1 tbsp (15 mL) red pepper flakes
2 tbsp (30 mL) freshly ground black pepper
4 U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish fillets, 6 to 8 oz (180 to 250 g) each
Preheat grill or broiler to high.
To make fireworks rub, mix spices in a bowl and spoon into a glass jar with tight-fitting lid.
Spray both sides of each catfish fillet lightly with vegetable oil.
Sprinkle 1 teaspoon (5 mL) of fireworks rub (or adjust to your taste) on each lightly oiled catfish fillet. Grill or broil over high heat for 3 ½ to 4 minutes per side or until the fish begins to flake when tested with a fork in the thickest part.
By the way, here’s some Skip James, “Catfish Blues,” and the great Clifton Chenier.