The blast of flavor from Atchafalaya Basin wild-caught catfish fillets bathed in a spicy red tomato gravy defines this classic Catfish Creole, an iconic Louisiana dish. But this recipe takes a few time-saving shortcuts to arrive at a delicious destination.
From time to time, I receive comments for my recipes being complicated. “Too many steps,” some say, “too much prep,” others complain, and the one I hear most often is “I don’t have that much time to spend in the kitchen.” I get it. We’re all busy, and for a quick weeknight meal for the family, there are times when shortcuts are in order, and with this recipe, I give you the tools to make it happen.
First, you can eliminate prep time by opening a jar of C’est Tout Dried Trinity Mix. Dreux Barra has done all the work for you by chopping and dehydrating the onions (green onions, too), bell pepper, and celery for an ingredient base that works in any recipe that calls for the Cajun trinity.
While making beef jerky in his home kitchen, this Cajun entrepreneur from Youngsville, Louisiana, had the brilliant (Why didn’t I think of it?) idea to dehydrate vegetables for a dried trinity. It was a hit with family and friends who tried it. Now, Dreux and his wife Monique are cranking out jars of C’est Tout (say-too), which means “That’s it,” to over 50 retailers across the region. You can buy their products online or follow this link to their convenient Store Locator to find a retailer near you.
When combined with heated liquid, the vegetables spring back without losing their original fresh flavor and caramelize quicker than fresh-chopped. It’s made right here in Acadiana and carries the Certified Cajun seal of approval. C’est Tout Dried Trinity Mix is a quality product for the cook-on-the-go.
In my recipe, canned peeled tomatoes, especially San Marzano, cut time without sacrificing the flavor of fresh tomatoes. Be sure to add the tomato paste — it gives the dish a depth of flavor mere tomatoes and sauce will never achieve. And adding a can of Rotel diced tomatoes and chiles is a trick that most Cajun cooks already know.
The sauce comes together quickly as the sweetness of the tomatoes balances the hotness that the spices give this dish. Since catfish is a delicate flaky finfish, an essential technique of this dish is to add the fillets at the end of cooking and just before serving. The fish will gently cook without disintegrating into the sauce. The Creole red gravy is the objective and a reason I choose to serve this dish over pasta. A loaf of French bread is a must-have accompaniment to a good red gravy.
Catfish Creole is a cinch when you take a few shortcuts to arrive at a deliciously easy dish.
This post is in partnership with C’est Tout Dried Trinity Mix. All opinions and selections here are my own. Thank you for supporting the affiliate sponsors who make this blog possible.
- 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup (half of a 4.2-ounce container) C’est Tout Dried Trinity Mix
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 3 cups seafood stock, plus more if needed
- 1 (28-ounce) can peeled whole tomatoes, crushed
- 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
- 1 (10-ounce) can mild diced tomatoes and green chiles, such as Rotel
- ½ tablespoon Acadiana Table Cajun Seasoning Blend, see recipe here
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Hot sauce, to taste
- 2 pounds catfish fillets, cut into large pieces
- 4 cups cooked angel hair pasta
- ½ cup diced green onion tops
- Lemon wedges
- In a cast-iron pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, add 4 tablespoons of oil and an equal amount of flour. Stir the roux with a flat-edge spatula until light brown with a nutty aroma, about 5 minutes.
- Add the C’est Tout Dried Trinity Mix and the garlic, stir to mix well, scraping the bottom of the pot. Pour in the seafood stock and continue stirring until the vegetables rehydrate, about 3 minutes.
- Add the canned tomatoes, crushing them by squeezing them in your hand. Add the tomato paste, Rotel, and the Cajun seasoning. Stir and cook over medium heat for 20 minutes. Check the dish for flavor and thickness; season with salt, pepper, and hot sauce to taste, and add more stock to desired consistency (Note: It should be a stew-like consistency with chunks of tomatoes and diced vegetables).
- At this point, you have two choices: you can refrigerate and serve later, or you can add the catfish and continue cooking just until the fillets easily flake and are not overcooked, 10 to 15 minutes. Serve over angel hair pasta (or rice) and garnish with green onion tops and lemon wedges.
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