Smoky Fried Catfish Cakes with Spicy Remoulade Sauce
Every spring, soon after the final days of turkey season wind down, we take a family trip to noodle big flathead catfish. Everyone gets involved. Well, the wife usually sits out the actual diving down and rooting around in search of a fish to grab, but enjoys the spectator part, and we always count on it to be one of our favorite trips of the year.
If you have ever eaten a big flathead catfish, you know their meat is pretty dense, with the belly meat in particular being more like lobster in texture than fish. It's hard to ever go wrong with a good catfish fry, but the clean flavor and interesting texture of a big flathead let it shine in other recipes as well.
Crab cakes are a favorite around here, but fresh crabs are hard to find here in the upper Midsouth. The flaky firm meat of a big catfish makes the perfect replacement. This recipe takes the flavor up even more by smoking the fish before flaking it to mix into the fish cake. The combination of smoke and spice pairs perfectly with the remoulade dipping sauce. Serve the cakes as an appetizer or a main course.
1.5-2 pounds catfish
1 tablespoon Old Bay Seafood Seasoning
½ yellow onion, diced
½ bell pepper, diced
½ jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced, or several slices of jarred jalapeno, diced
1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to tas
1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup crackers, crushed (about half a sleeve of saltines)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons spicy brown mustard
1 large egg, beaten
I cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons hot sauce
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
1 teaspoon spicy brown mustard
Start the process by rubbing the fish with the Old Bay Seasoning. Smoke the fish at 250 degrees for one hour or until it is white and flakes easily. Remove the fish from the smoker, allow it to cool, and flake it apart with a fork.
While the cakes cook, blend the remoulade ingredients. Serve on the side as a dip for the catfish cakes, or spoon over the top for a main course.