Catfish Court Bouillon

Chef Donald Link expands his restaurants with Calcasieu and tempts our taste buds in the process.

Catfish Court Bouillon
(aka coo-be-yon)

1 tablespoon butter
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1/2 bell pepper, finely chopped
1 medium tomato, diced
1 jalapeño or serrano pepper,
   finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon each white pepper,
      black pepper, paprika
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 cup Fish Stock or
         Shrimp Stock
1 pound (3 to 4) catfish fillets,
   cut into 4-inch pieces
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup cornmeal, preferably
      white and finely ground
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
   or bacon fat
1/4 cup coarsely chopped parsley
1/4 cup chopped scallions
Juice of one lemon
5 basil leaves, coarsely torn
Hot steamed rice, for serving

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, celery, pepper, tomato, jalapeño, garlic, thyme, salt, white pepper, black pepper and paprika. Cook, stirring, until softened – about 5 minutes. Add the white wine, bring to a boil and simmer until it has almost completely evaporated – about 10 minutes – then add the stock and simmer 10 minutes more. Remove skillet from heat and cover to keep warm.
Season the catfish with salt and pepper. On a plate or in a pie tin, whisk together the flour and cornmeal. Heat the oil in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Dredge the filets in flour and cornmeal mix, shaking to remove excess, and transfer to skillet. Sauté the fish for 3 minutes on the rounder, fuller side, then flip the fish and add the sauce (using a spatula to scrap it into the skillet), then let simmer for 5 to 8 minutes, until the fish is just cooked through. Stir in the parsley, scallions, lemon juice and fresh, torn basil.
To serve, gently remove the catfish with a slotted spatula and set over rice, then spoon a generous amount of sauce over the catfish. Serves 4

Note on stocks: “Any type of seafood stock will work for this dish, so don’t get too concerned with following recipes for stocks. Make them taste good by using all the scraps from what you are working with. Chef Link recently made this recipe with a crawfish stock, because he just so happened to have some on hand. Traditionally court bouillon is made with fish stock but shrimp stock, or virtually any shellfish stock or even chicken stock, will work just fine. Do not, however, make this with water because it won’t be worth the effort, flavor-wise. At the very least, take two whole, small fish and chop them up to make a quick fish stock with the scraps of your vegetable prep.”

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