A Blackened Catfish From Dixie

Diana Helfand
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Wednesday - April 07, 2005
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There are certain shows that have magic for audiences of all ages and especially delight children. This is particularly the case with Andrew Lloyd Webber’s CATS, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary tour this year and opens at the Blaisdell Concert Hall April 12, running through the 17th.

Who better to salute in this column than my friend, the show’s publicist Elissa Josephsohn, a cat person? Since Lisa only entertains in restaurants and never cooks, it’s only appropriate that Ruth King, general manager of Dixie Grill in Aiea, shares her restaurant’s recipe for — what else? — “Blackened Catfish.”

Ruth says, “Dixie Grill uses farm-raised catfish from Mississippi Pride, which raises its fish in both Mississippi and Louisiana. We cut the large fillets we receive down to 4- to 6- ounce portions before cooking.”

Over the years, catfish evolved from its traditional status as a fried Southern food and today restaurants nationwide serve U.S. farm-raised catfish broiled, baked, grilled and in a number of other ways. Catfish has a fresh, mild taste and firm texture, which has taken it from what was once considered a Southern delicacy to a popular choice at dinner tables nationwide.

The cultivation of water plants and animals for human use started thousands of years ago. Today, it’s the fastest growing segment of agriculture in the United States. Whether done in fresh water or salt, farming food for our consumption is a technologically advanced science. Everything from scallops and oysters to salmon and, of course, catfish are being raised in controlled environments that help ease the increased demand for improved, quality protein sources to feed our ever-expanding world population.

This catfish recipe is also great served with your favorite salsa as an alternative to the higherfat smoked tomato tartar sauce.

From Dixie Grill Bar-B-Que & Crab Shack

• 6 ounce catfish filet, in two pieces
• 2 tablespoons blackening spice
• 2 ounces coleslaw
• 2 ounces Smoked Tomato Tartar Sauce (recipe below)
• 1 sprig cilantro

Season catfish with spice and blacken in pan for approximately two minutes on each side. Top the catfish with tartar sauce and garnish with cilantro. Serve with coleslaw and Creole rice or grits. May be garnished with parsley and dry rub as well. Makes one serving.

For Smoked Tomato Tartar Sauce:
• 6 tomatoes
• 3 jalapenos
• 1 yellow onion, sliced in half
• 3 cups tartar sauce (Dixie Grill makes its own, but you can buy in a jar)
• 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped parsley
• 2 tablespoons liquid smoke
• 1 tablespoon kosher salt (may use less, or omit for lower sodium)
• 1 tablespoon Dixie Hot Sauce (you can buy it at Dixie Grill, or use your favorite brand)

Place tomatoes, jalapenos and onions in smoker or pan. Smoke for 45 minutes at 190 degrees; remove from smoker and let cool. Remove skin from the tomatoes and squeeze the juice and seeds from them. Remove the seeds and skins from jalapenos. Dice tomatoes, jalapenos and onions. Place in mixing bowl. Add remaining ingredients and mix until wellincorporated.

Approximate Nutrition Information (fish only with no sauce):
Calories: 180
Fat: 8 grams
Cholesterol: 75 milligrams
Sodium:190 milligrams
(depending on how much salt is used)

(Diana Helfand, author of “Hawaii Light and Healthy” and “The Best of Heart-y Cooking,” has taught nutrition in the Kapiolani Community College culinary arts program.)

(Diana Helfand, author of “Hawaii Light and Healthy” and “The Best of Heart-y Cooking,” has taught nutrition in the Kapiolani Community College culinary arts program.)

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