Cornmeal Crusted Catfish with Peach-Onion Jam

Cornmeal Crusted Catfish with Peach-Onion Jam: Fried catfish fillets, crusted with cornmeal, smoked paprika and cayenne and served with an easy peach-onion jam cover all the flavor bases - spicy, sweet, smoky and just a little bit salty.

A combination of cornmeal, breadcrumbs, smoked paprika and cayenne makes a zesty, crunchy crust for shallow fried catfish fillets. The sweet onion and peach jam is easy to make and a perfect complement to the slightly spicy coating on the fish. We served it with Sweet Corn and Tomato Salad and a green salad dressed with Buttermilk Ranch Dressing.

Cornmeal Crusted Catfish with Peach-Onion Jam

  • Ingredients:
  • 2 lbs catfish fillets
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup half-and-half
  • 1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal (see recipe notes)
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • Peanut oil for frying
  • For the Peach-Onion Jam:
  • 2 lbs sweet onions, roughly chopped (Vidalia, Texas sweets, etc.)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • Pinch of cayenne (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup peach nectar
  • 2 tablespoons peach preserves

Make the Peach-Onion Jam ~
Heat the butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onions, cover the pan and cook for 12 to 15 minutes, stirring 3 or 4 times during the process. Remove the cover, raise the heat to medium. Add the salt, white pepper, cayenne (if using), lemon juice and peach nectar. Continue cooking, uncovered, until the liquid has reduced slightly, about 5 minutes.

Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the mixture is thick and jam-like, 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in the peach preserves and cook until dissolved. Transfer to a serving dish and set aside at room temperature until ready to serve.

Prepare the fish:
In a shallow dish, whisk together the beaten egg and half-and-half. Lay out a large sheet of wax paper and combine the breadcrumbs, cornmeal, smoked paprika and cayenne with your fingers or a fork. Dip each catfish fillet into the egg mixture, drain off the excess and coat with the cornmeal mix, pressing the coating into the fish gently with the back of a spoon.

Heat 1/4-inch of peanut oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat (325°F). Working in batches, add the catfish in a single layer and fry until golden and cooked through, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and keep warm. Serve with the Peach-Onion Jam.

Makes 6 servings

Recipe Notes:
We like a medium grind, whole grain cornmeal (Bob's Red Mill is a great brand) for this dish. It has a subtle corn flavor and wonderful crunch when fried.

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