John Wipfli’s Blackened Catfish & Corn Succotash
Blackening fish is one of those cooking techniques that sounds very fancy and intimidating — in fact, it’s no more difficult than searing a steak or browning a piece of chicken. You just need a whole lot more heat. The idea is to rub the fish fillet with spices, and then lay them in a smoking hot cast-iron skillet. The heat, fat and seasoning create a super crispy, deeply flavorful crust.
Our recipe comes from Fish, John Wipfli’s latest cookbook. The Minnesotan chef and outdoorsman has you mix up a savory blackening mix from scratch, using smoky paprika, white pepper, mustard and a few aromatics and herbs. It’s very flavorful, and it has a nice, easy-going smoky heat — you can still taste the earthy, sweet catfish under the crust.
Succotash is the perfect accompaniment for blackened catfish. Wipfli’s is a fresh blend of corn, zucchini, green beans and tomatoes cooked just until tender. A forkful of the juicy succotash and the crispy fish is pretty much the perfect late summer bite.
With the fish perched (pun intended) on a pile of colorful veggies, it looks like fancy farm-to-table fare, and no one but you needs to know that it comes together in a few easy steps and 25 minutes. Make it when the MIL comes to visit. She’ll be bragging about you and your blackened catfish for months — or at least until the next scrumptious family meal you cook up.
Our tip: If you’re short on time, you could also use L&B Cajun Spice seasoning as a rub for the catfish.
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
For the blackening mix:
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
½ teaspoon ground white pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
For the succotash
Grapeseed oil, for sautéing
1 large white onion
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1 tablespoon thyme leaves, minced
4 ears corn, shucked, kernels cut from the cob
2 small zucchini, minced
1 cup green beans, diced and blanched
1 large tomato, diced
Fresh basil leaves, torn, for garnishing
Juice of 1 lemon
Freshly ground black pepper
For the fish
4 6-ounce catfish fillets
4 tablespoons blackening mix
- To make the blackening mix: In a medium bowl, stir together all the blackening mix ingredients. Set aside until needed. Store any leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 6 months.
- To make the succotash: In a large saute pan or skillet over medium heat, heat 1 tbsp of grapeseed oil. Add the onion, garlic and thyme. Lightly sweat until the onion is translucent (it should not brown), 4 to 5 minutes.
- Add the corn and gently cook until the corn just starts to soften, about 3 minutes.
- Add zucchini and green beans and cook until they are tender, about 3 minutes.
- Toss in the tomato to heat. Finish the succotash with torn basil and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Keep warm while making the fish or reheat quickly before plating.
- To make the fish: Season both sides of the fish liberally with blackening mix. Heat a large cast-iron skillet over high heat until it just starts to smoke. Add enough grapeseed oil to lightly coat the bottom of the pan and decrease heat slightly. Add the fillets to the hot skillet. Let them blacken for about 3 minutes. Flip the fish and finish cooking, 3 to 4 minutes more.
- Place the warm succotash on a plate and top with the blackened fish.
Recipe adapted from: Fish by Jon Wipfli