Here’s a great way to use that bergamot salmoriglio sauce: as a summery garnish to a piece of fish.
Catfish is a great, often overlooked fish in restaurants, it’s meaty, and juicy, not to mention cheap. Fried in a crispy dredge of some seasoned cornmeal, it’s the beginning of a great meal.
Summer time means that lots of nice vegetables are around here in Minnesota, and to me, nothing evokes thoughts of warm weather like corn and tomatoes. Hands down, one of my favorite garnishes for fish is just a handful of sliced heirloom baby tomatoes, they are dressed up a bit here with the corn and macerated onions, but it would be just fine to season some sliced tomatoes with salt and pepper and toss them on something too. As well, since the bergamot blooms at the same time, they’re a natural pairing together.
This is a really easy recipe, you make a little salad of corn, tomatoes, and macerated onion, then fry up some catfish, plop on a little tomato salad and bergamot sauce and you’re ready to go. It’s light and colorful-everything that summer should be.
Cornmeal Catfish, Bergamot Salmoriglio, Tomato-Corn Salad
Serves two as a light entree
- Two 5 oz filets of catfish
- 1 cup buttermilk
- Kosher salt and pepper
- Grapeseed or canola oil, for sauteeing
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter, for finishing the catfish
- 2 tbsp bergamot salmoriglio sauce see recipe here
- 1 recipe dried bergamot-cornmeal dredge (follows)
- 1 recipe heirloom baby tomato-sweet corn salad (follows)
- Cover the catfish in buttermilk for a few hours before you cook it, it helps the cornmeal stick, and adds a nice zip. When it’s time to eat, remove the catfish from the buttermilk, season lightly with salt and pepper, and then dredge it in the cornmeal mixture. Heat a saute pan with the grapeseed or other oil, then place the cat fish in the pan, making sure that the “plating side” is face down. (This side will probably have a line running down it, from where the pin bones are removed, it’s the superior side of the filet of every fish for searing, unless the fish has edible skin)
- Cook the catfish for five minutes until golden brown, then flip the filets over to crust the other side, adding the butter to make sure that the pan doesn’t get dry. When the other side of the catfish is cooked through, remove the catfish to a platter with a paper towel to drain off the excess fat for a moment, then put 1 filet on each of two pre-heated dinner plates, top each with a tbsp of the bergamot salmoriglio sauce followed by a handful of the tomato salad, and serve immediately.
Dried Bergamot-Cornmeal Dredge
Yield: 2 cups, plenty to coat 2 filets, scale as needed for larger batches of fish
- 1.5 cups fine cornmeal
- 1/2 cup polenta
- 1 tbsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp cayenne
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp fresh ground pepper
- 2 tbsp dried bergamot, crushed
- Combine all the ingredients and mix thoroughly. Store in an airtight container until ready to use. If you want to re-use the dredge after it has touched the fish, I would keep it in a plastic bag in the freezer.
Baby Heirloom Tomato-Sweet Corn Salad
This is a simple salad: baby tomatoes, roasted sweet corn, onion, and some flavorful oil. Make sure your tomatoes are of the highest quality, and have not seen a refrigerator (it makes them mealy). It’s also very important to macerate the onion to tame it’s flavor.
Make sure your knife is very sharp too, baby tomatoes get “shmushed” easily.
Yield: 1.5 cups, enough to garnish two entrees with some leftovers that you should probably eat out of the bowl with a spoon.
- 1 ear of sweet corn
- 1 cup heirloom baby tomatoes, halved with a sharp knife
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt, plus more to taste
- 1 tsp sugar, honey or another sweetener of your choice
- 1 tbsp virgin sunflower oil or olive oil
- 1/4 of a red onion, thinly sliced with the grain (I’ll explain)
- Splash of champagne vinegar
- Preheat the oven to 350.
- Cut off the root and top of the onion, stand it up, then cut in half vertically. Place the onion cut side down on a cutting board and slice very thinly, perpendicular to the root and top cuts. Combine the sliced onion in a non reactive mixing bowl with the salt and sugar, and toss to combine. Allow the onion to macerate for 10 minutes or so.
- Roast the corn in it’s husk for 15 minutes or until just tender, depending on your oven. Remove the corn and cool in it’s husk. Using a paring knife, (feel free to check out my method here) remove the corn from the cob. If needed, break the the corn into individual kernals.
- Combine the sliced onion with the corn, tomatoes, and sunflower oil, vinegar, and toss to combine. Double check the seasoning for salt and pepper and reserve until needed, at room temperature.