Wait....did she just say catfish??? That's right... I found a deal on catfish when we went grocery shopping, so I snagged it up. Thought it was time for a change :)
Catfish will forever remind me of my dad. (I hope he doesn't take that the wrong way) When I was a kid, my whole family, including aunts and uncles and cousins, used to go camping. We used to go to this area in Yutan, Nebraska, but as I got older, the location moved much closer to my home. I loved going camping as a family...even when things started to change, like the women wanting to go shopping instead of camping...I still wanted to be a part of the camping experience. I loved sleeping in a tent. I loved how funny my dad and uncles would get while they played cards and drank the afternoons away. I loved the freedom. I loved the FOOD!! I mean, I don't know about you, but it seems that no matter what I eat when I'm out camping, it's always the best I've ever had! My dad and uncles would set up fishing lines along the river that we'd camp close to. They caught a lot of catfish that way. And that catfish was brought back to camp where my dad would clean it and cook. He would bread it and pan fry it. I LOVED it. It was the best fish I'd ever had....each and every time I had it. He'd even bring some home...if they caught enough...and make it the same way. It was still amazingly good at home, but it never truly had the wonderful outdoor cooking flavor that the catfish cooked at the campsite did :)
This little concoction is my tribute to my dad for all those times he cooked catfish for me. (Thanks Dad!) I've made it a bit healthier then when my dad makes it, but other then that, I tried to duplicate it as best as I could without really knowing what he used. I think he'd be pretty proud :)
Oh, and let's not forget the sauce..... OMG....this sauce was fiery and wonderful and a perfect compliment to the crispy fish. This is a great alternative to the standard tartar sauce.
Baked Catfish with Firecracker Sauce
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/4-1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (you can add even more if you want it hotter)
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 large catfish fillets
2 Tablespoons cornmeal
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons panko bread crumbs
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika (optional)
In a small bowl, mix together the mayo, lemon juice, Dijon, cayenne, garlic powder and pepper until smooth. Cover and keep in refrigerator until ready to use.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place baking sheet that will hold a wire rack into the oven while it heats (this will help keep the bottom of the fish crispy....see this post for further instructions).
In a shallow dish, mix the cornmeal, flour, panko, pepper, garlic salt, and paprika together. Rinse the fillets and do not dry them off. Press fillets into cornmeal mixture, making sure both sides are covered. Shake off any excess coating. Place the fillets on a wire rack and transfer to baking sheet in the oven. Bake for 10 minutes. Turn the broiler on and broil the fish for another 2 minutes or until the coating is golden brown and fish flakes easily with a fork. Serve with Firecracker Sauce on the side. Enjoy!