One of our favorite entrees at Ed Lee’s National Harbor restaurant Succotash is this crunchy, cornmeal-fried fish perked up with a minty, zesty aioli. The restaurant uses Chesapeake blue catfish, which has a cleaner, milder flavor than the standard stuff—it’s available at Whole Foods, the District Fishwife, and other local grocery stores and markets.
- 1 quart grapeseed oil
- 8 ounces blue catfish or catfish filets
- ½ cup flour
- ½ cup fine cornmeal
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon onion powder
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1½ cups buttermilk
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 lemon, halved
- Jalapeno/mint aioli, for garnish (see recipe)
- Sprigs of flatleaf parsley, for garnish
- Pour the grapeseed oil into a deep frying pan and heat until it reaches 350 degrees.
- Cut the catfish filets lengthwise into very thin slices. Put the buttermilk in a medium bowl and soak the fish for 10 minutes.
- In a large bowl, mix the flour, cornmeal, cayenne, paprika, salt, onion powder, garlic powder, and black pepper until well combined.
- Remove the catfish from the buttermilk and let the excess liquid drip off. Transfer slices to the flour mixture and dredge the catfish on both sides.
- Slowly add pieces to the pan with the hot oil for 6 to 8 minutes, until they are golden brown and cooked through. Drain on paper towels and season with salt.
- Transfer to plates and garnish with the jalapeno mint aioli, half a lemon, and a few sprigs of parsley. Serve right away.
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 3 jalapeños, seeds removed
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1½ cups Duke’s mayo
- ½ cup packed fresh chopped mint
- Salt and pepper to taste
In a small frying pan, heat the oil on high and add 2 jalapeños and 2 cloves garlic. Saute until they are dark and caramelized. Remove from the heat and transfer to a food processor. Add the additional garlic clove and jalapeño. Pulse until a rough paste forms. Add the lemon juice and the mayonnaise and puree until combined. Scrape down the sides. Add the mint and season to taste with salt and pepper. Puree until smooth. Reserve in the refrigerator until ready to use.