Sunday, September 30, 2007

Cajun Country Catfish

Cajun and southern country cooking are so intertwined that sometimes they just go together like live oak trees and Spanish moss.

Greensboro is oh so fortunate to have a few folks of Cajun Country descent who grew up with a ladle in one hand and spices in the other. Add a tad of creativity, and you have the ingredients for prize-winning cooks!

Roland Perry is one of them.

While his name doesn’t sound one bit French, he’s got the brogue to go with his background…raised on Cow Island, Louisiana, where he learned to cook beneath live oak trees on the intracoastal canal somewhere between Lake Charles and Lafayette.

His claim to fame in Alabama is chief recipe creator for a cooking team that won the Alabama Wildlife Federation’s Wild Game Cookoff several years ago. And yes, that recipe contained catfish!

Well now, farm-raised catfish isn’t wild, but all of Roland’s recipes adapt to this sweeter, healthier variety. The winning recipe was a mixture of flavors: catfish filets stuffed with crabmeat and topped with crawfish etouffee. He says this dish is written in his head, and here goes:

Split several 5-ounce catfish filets, and score them on the inside. Mix fresh or canned crabmeat with minced onion, cayenne pepper, garlic and butter (to keep it moist).

Roland recommends creativity here. Just add the ingredients according to your taste.

Fill the filets with the crabmeat mixture.(It doesn’t take much.) Grill, and top with crawfish etouffee.

Crawfish Etouffee (A-2-fay)

1 lb. crawfish tail meat
¼ lb. margarine
2 medium yellow onions, chopped
1 teaspoon red cayenne pepper
1 small bell pepper, chopped
1 teaspoon garlic
1 10-ounce can golden mushroom soup
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 teaspoon salt

Use a black, iron cook pot or Dutch oven. Sauté the pepper, salt, onions and bell pepper in the margarine until onions are clear or wilted. Stir in the peeled crawfish meat. Lower the heat, and stir the mixture so it does not stick to the pot. Add garlic, and heat at least 15 minutes, then add the mushroom soup and green onions, and turn off the heat. Cover tightly and allow to simmer about 10 minutes. Serve the etouffee over the catfish.

Roland, who retires this week from his job as district conservationist for the Natural Resources and Conservation Service, will likely be doing even more cooking in his “ free time” ahead. He already has a reputation around town as a great cook. He’s cooked for dove hunt crowds of 75, helped start the crawfish festival in Faunsdale, cooked at Greensboro’s catfish festival and written a Camphouse Kitchen column for Gulf Coast Outdoors magazine.

In his column, he encouraged creative cooking. “Creativity is seeing what everybody else sees, only seeing it in a different way. Everybody can be creative,” he wrote.

“Creative” to Roland meant trying all kinds of cuisine as well as cooking methods. On summer Sundays, his family would gather with friends for an outdoor fish fry. They used a black iron pot that sat on a tripod over hot coals, and he gathered firewood for cooking and Spanish Moss for a fish bed. The moss was placed next to the frying pot, and when the fish was done, it was placed on the moss where it absorbed the cooking oil from the fish, a method that he says works better than today’s paper towels. While hog lard was used back then, today he recommends peanut oil.

“Catfish was the big thing down there,” he said, so he felt right at home when he moved to the “other Catfish Country” around Greensboro, and he says he's here to stay!


Nunnie's Attic said...

Thanks for sharing his recipes. I love etouffee but I didn't have a recipe.


JANET said...

Hi Julie, Etouffee seems to have gotten pretty popular around here and is used with several dishes.
Thanks for visiting!

2 LMZ FARMS said...

I love cajun cooking!!! Hope you and yours have a blessed day.

Dena ~ swaddlecottage said...

Hi Janet,

Oh does this sound good and it's only 9:30 in the morning here! Thank you for visiting me today :)

Have a great day!


JANET said...

Hi Laura and Dena,
Thanks for your comments. Hope you both have a wonderful day!

Kacie said...

What a cool story! I'm looking forward to more.

Susie Q said...

I love etoufee. We lived in Texas for awhile and used to be through LA a lot. It was there I discovered etoufee...and learned to adore Cajun.


amy said...

Who knew a can of golden mushroom soup was in etoufee? Thanks for the recipe... for some room any kind of cajun cooking seems like a daunting task. but it's soooo delish!

Fruit species said...

Hi Janet. It seems that catfishes are popular at your place. Which species of catfish do you farm?

JANET said...

Thank you all for visiting!

Fruity, nice for you to stop by. Catfish is very popular here! While I don't farm catfish, a lot of other people do. They raise channel catfish in freshwater ponds as opposed to "wild" catfish that are caught from rivers and streams. The pond-raised fish must meet U.S. environmental standards, meaning you don't have to worry if there are unsafe levels of mercury in the fish or if there are antibiotics or cancer-causing agents that have been found present in some Asian imports.
The Southeast U.S. is where the bulk of the U.S. catfish is produced. I just happen to be a Catfish Country native who enjoys eating catfish!

Belinda said...

Hi Janet! That etouffee sounds fantastic...I too love spicy cajun food. Now you've got me craving something really tasty and zippy for dinner...perhaps tomorrow I will make a creole beef stir-fry! :-)

Anonymous said...

Love the blog, it's so interesting to learn about this unique aspect of farming. It's great to know southern grown catfish is safe to eat - I'll have to try some on my kids! Julia

Overwhelmed! said...

Janet, I wanted to let you know that I've got my Holiday Cooking, Blogger Style recipe exchange posted!

Stop by and join in the fun! :)

Sandi @the WhistleStop Cafe said...

Janet~ thanks for sharing this great recipe... I love the fact that it is written in his head and 'requires creativity'.

Cris said...

Love the way you mix your recipes with the talking and cultural aspects of the dish.