We did our best to spoil Jonah while he was home, with lots of family time and good home cooking. He keeps assuring me not to be nervous about his being in the Middle East, but what can I say, I'm nervous and I just wanted to fill him up and wrap him up in our love...We Love You Jonah!
Jonah is not one to miss the opportunity to have his favorite meals cooked, so he requested our favorite Catfish Dinner. This meal is so simple because I totally cheat and let Zatarain's do most of the work - I just stand there and turn the catfish while the red beans and rice simmer on the stove.
For the catfish, I start by rinsing it in warm water and then I dip it in Zatarain's Fish Fry (notice a theme, we love us some Zatarain's!) I shake the excess off and then I place them in hot oil to fry. It is REALLY important to make sure the oil is hot and bubbly - otherwise, when you place the catfish in the oil, it will absorb the oil making for really greasy yucky fish. You want the oil to fry the fish, not marinate in it. Since I'm always cooking large quanitities, I always get my ovens heated to about 200 degrees and get some cookie sheets ready. After the catfish browns nicely on both sides, I place it on the cookie sheet and then pop it in the oven while I fry the next batch. I repeat this until it is all fried up. This helps in two ways, 1. It keeps the fish nice and hot. 2. It also keeps the fish from absorbing oil as it cools, taking away the crispness...we want it to have a crispy outside and a juicy middle.
Before I even start frying the catfish I get 3 or 4 boxes of this simmering on the stovetop. (I usually fry the catfish in an electric skillet). This is one of those convenience meals that we all love and I have no interest in looking for a replacement that is homemade. Whenever I make catfish, I also make Zatarain's Red Beans and Rice - it's against my religion not to, or at least the family laws of dinner.
I also always cheat and buy that HUGE bag of hushpuppies they sale at Sam's Club. I just throw them on a baking sheet and bake at 400 for about 10 minutes.
As far as the okra goes, I prefer to shake my own with cornmeal and fry it up but Jonah loves the breaded okra so I cheated here too and picked a bag of that up. Once the catfish was done frying and staying hot in the oven, I added the okra and cooked it up quick. It is done in about 10 minutes.
This meal is easy, the hardest part is just moving catfish to and fro from fryer to oven - and even that is simple. It does take a while to cook, but that is only because I am usually making so much.