Ever wonder what you should do with 3 catfish fillets - in August - in the South - on a 95 degree day? Well that's what I was faced with.
The wife took out 3 fillets and was going to fry 'em up like normal, but I didn't want to heat up the house when it is nearly 100 degrees outside - so it was time to find something new to do with the local indigenous game fish - the (a 3 sided catfish?)
Actually saw an episode of Good Eats where Mr. Brown suggested a ceviche with catfish - this is roughly based on his recipe amended from the myriad of other ceviche recipes and processes readily available.
To answer the question most of you are wondering -where do you catch a 3 sided catfish? Well I have to keep the location secret - but there is a nuclear plant in the area. (actually I bought the fish at the local market)
Step 1: Ingredients
From what I gather, ceviche is basically an acid cured fish mixed with whatever type of salsa suits your fancy. My fish is a bit unusual - farm raised catfish - most of the other ceviches seem to call for a saltwater whitefish or shrimp. The first time I had a dish of this type was last fall, went to a Mexican restaurant and my son ordered it. We were all surprised when it came out in a glass, and was cold. Decided it was refreshing, but better suited to summertime than fall.
Making this is not all that difficult - there are quite a few ingredients, mostly in the salsa. But you can add or remove ingredients to suit your particular salsa palate.
catfish - about 1 pound
1 habanero pepper
2 serrano peppers
Fresh basil - I had about 6 large leaves
1 red onion
about a cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
4 cloves garlic
Cut the fish (about 1 pound) into smallish cubes - mine are about a half inch.
Put the fish and marinade in a plastic bag and pop in the fridge for about 6 hours. I turned the baggie over a couple times to make sure all the fish cubes were properly cured.
Step 2: The Messy Bits
First things first...
Get the fish in the marinade and into the fridge.
zest 1 lime
juice all 3 limes
add 1 Tbsp sugar and 1 tsp salt
Cut fish into bite sized cubes, about a half inch
Mix the fish and the marinade in a plastic bag - pop into the fridge for about 6 hours. I turned the bag over a couple times to make sure everything was properly coated
Once fish is safely stored in the fridge clean all the equipment. I used the same cutting board and knives for the salsa as the fish so I cleaned everything before starting the salsa.
Finely chop the basil, cilantro.
Remove the seeds from the peppers and chop very fine
Dice the tomato, onion
slice the cucumber
finely slice the garlic
Mix everything in a large bowl and into the fridge. I probably should have stored in the back of the fridge, there seemed to be some pilferin' taking place during the day.
Go outside and enjoy a day while the fridge does the hard work.
Step 3: Finish and Serve
After your long hot day in the southern summer sun come back inside, pour yourself a tall glass of iced tea and finish dinner.
Drain the fish - I discarded the marinade
Mix the fish into the salsa
Cube an avocado and add to the salsa mix
Return to the fridge for about a half hour.... Just enough time to take a shower and gather the troops.
Presentation and serve.
I dished the mixture in 3 margarita glasses - with salted rims. Added a slice of pineapple for a garnish and served.
Pretty good, not great. Way to acidic for my tastes, needed a sweeter citrus to balance all the lime. In the future I think I'd add some pineapple to the salsa to give some much needed sweetness. I was concerned about the peppers, a whole habanero for cryin' out loud. Actually, it was not that spicy. Removing the seeds undoubtedly cut the potency. I'd keep the pepper count and configuration about the same in the future. Texture was good, may want to go a bit smaller with the fish cubes. Catfish is pretty tough and can handle being cut smaller than other fishes.
Will I make it again - on occasion. On a hot day it is a refreshing meal. My wife and kids are adventurous eaters - we don't have any issues with raw fish in sushi - so I was not overly concerned about eating uncooked catfish. Raw fish - even soaked in acid that will wipe out any nasties that happen to be around - is not for everyone. If it isn't your cup of tea you can always fry the 3 sided fish.