There’s a lot that needs rewriting from this past week’s Chef Race episode. Among them, Stan and my midpoint challenge cook-off against Caroline and Bianca, which they cut entirely. I am partially relieved because it means they cut Richard Corrigan telling me I should go learn how to use my knives. But it also means you missed us winning! (not that he ate his words or anything).
I’ll have all the behind-the-scenes dirt for you, as always, in my upcoming recap of the show. In the meantime, I wanted to share our winning recipe from that checkpoint in Little Rock. The challenge was catfish and rice, and for anyone who’s ever tried to make rice on a grill, you know it ain’t no picnic. Especially when the Mississippi is right behind you blowing humid gusts of ash in your face.
If you’re making this at home, I would recommend sauteing the rice with the tomato-zucchini mixture and making it like a pilaf. Since we only had limited time to prep and cook, we got the rice started separately in a second pot and stirred it into the vegetables once cooked.
Check out scenes from next week’s episode, in which we get to design our own BBQ sauce, and I get to break out my corporate product development and marketing skills from my former life.
Stay tuned for my episode 5 recap, and eat up!
Cornmeal-Crusted Catfish with Tomato-Zucchini Rice and Tri-Color Radish Slaw
Makes 2 servings
For the rice:
1 ½ cup of water or chicken stock
1 cup of Arkansas rice
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1 sweet onion, diced
1 large zucchini, diced
1 pint assorted cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon ancho chili powder
Juice of 1 lemon
¼ cup chopped cilantro leaves
For the slaw:
6 assorted radishes, trimmed, halved and thinly sliced
½ cup finely chopped purple cabbage
½ cup finely chopped green cabbage
Juice of ½ a lime
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons honey
½ teaspoon salt
For the fish:
2 catfish fillets, skins removed
1 pint buttermilk
1 cup cornmeal
1. Make the rice: bring the stock or water to a boil over high heat. Stir in the rice, butter, and salt. Cover tightly and remove to the lowest possible heat. Cook for 20 minutes. Remove from the heat. Allow to sit for 5 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Saute the onion over medium-high heat until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the zucchini and continue to sauté until beginning to soften, about 3 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, cumin, paprika, and chili powder. Sauté over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes have released their juices, about 7 minutes.
3. Fluff the rice with a fork and transfer to the pan with the tomato mixture. Stir to combine. Off the heat, add the lemon juice and cilantro. Taste for seasoning.
4. Make the slaw: combine all ingredients in a medium-mixing bowl. Toss until incorporated. Taste for seasoning and add more salt as necessary.
5. Make the fish: Arrange the catfish fillets in a shallow bowl or baking dish. Pour the buttermilk over the fish. Marinate for 10 minutes.
6. Coat a cast iron skillet with a generous layer of olive oil over high heat. Place the cornmeal on a plate and season with salt and pepper. Remove the catfish from the buttermilk and dredge it in the cornmeal on both sides, shaking off any excess. When the pan is smoking, add the catfish fillets. Fry on both sides until golden brown and very crisp, about 3 minutes per side. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels. When the catfish is cool enough to touch, cut each fillet into two pieces.
7. To serve, place two cups of rice on each plate and top with two pieces of catfish. Using a slotted spoon and leaving as much juice as possible in the mixing bowl, scoop about ¼ cup of slaw on top of the fish. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley and some additional sliced radishes. Enjoy immediately!