Catfish with creole sauce

Sportsmen can work up a chill as they enjoy February’s offerings. It takes a lot of insulation to stay warm while wading a mountain stream for trout and smallmouth, or hiding knee deep in a marsh waiting for the morning’s flight of snow geese. This isn’t usually as bone chilling as in late January, but a warm, welcoming meal after hunting or fishing really hits the spot. This meal does that and with a salute to our Cajun friends who will be celebrating Mardi Gras. Yes, Fat Tuesday is Feb. 13 this year, and this is a slightly different way to celebrate it. Add some gumbo, red beans and rice or jambalaya if you want, but this meal of catfish with creole sauce should do just fine.

This is another of those meals that gets better as you cook it. The aromas that fill the kitchen will have everyone hungry and ready to eat, regardless of if they’ve been outside hunting or fishing or vegging in front of the TV. It might be nap time after eating this too. It’s not only tasty, it’s filling – and many sportsmen enjoy the flavor so much, they tend to overeat – just a little, you know.

Catfish with creole sauce

This recipe is a wave to my Cajun family and friends who introduced me to their excellent foods, plus a salute to Mardi Gras and Fat Tuesday. I’m going to prepare it then and it will be a good one for other folks to enjoy. It has just enough jalapeno to add to the flavor without being overly spicy. It has a great flavor, with a few Cajun spices, but isn’t hot.

I’ve had creole served with some fish pieces in it before and it was good, but I was served a version of this some time back on a trip through the Gulf Coast and really enjoyed it. I’ve made it from time to time and had it suggested for this issue. I usually offer a Cajun recipe during February as a salute to Mardi Gras and some folks don’t care for the robust spices. One of those folks, who has enjoyed this before, suggested that I use this for my “Mardi Gras Salute” recipe so folks that preferred milder flavors could enjoy it too.

This is a lower fat version of creole sauce.  It has most of the same ingredients, but not a lot of butter, and a heavy roux to begin the sauce. If you prefer the taste of a heavy roux, it’s simple to combine some butter, flour and a few spices to make one.

I cook this in a deep cast iron pan to spread the heat evenly and this helps with making the roux.

Laissez les bons temps rouler, and enjoy a plate or two of catfish with creole sauce!


This creole sauce is full of flavor, but isn’t too hot, as many folks fear when they hear its name. (Picture by Jerry Dilsaver)

2 Pounds catfish fillets

Favorite seafood breader

1 12-ounce pack of crawfish tails (shrimp are a good substitute)

3 pieces of bacon

4 cups white rice, cooked

1 Sweet onion

1/2 – 2/3 Cup chopped red, yellow or orange bell pepper

1 Jalapeno pepper

2 Stalks celery

1/2 TBL minced garlic

1 Large (28 oz) can diced tomatoes

2 Tsp Italian seasoning

1 Bay leaf

1 TBL lemon juice

1/2 TBL Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning

2/3 Cup peanut oil

1 TBL vegetable oil

1 TBL flour

1 Packet or 1 Tsp Splenda

Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Chop the onion, peppers and celery.
  2. Prepare the rice according to the manufacturer’s directions.
  3. Cook the bacon in a large pan and remove the bacon, leaving the grease. I use a deep cast iron pan.
  4. Add the vegetable oil and allow it to heat.
  5. Stir in the onion, peppers, celery and garlic and continue to stir occasionally until the vegetables soften.
  6. Crumble the bacon.
  7. Drain the tomatoes, but save their juice.
  8. Add 1/4 cup of tomato juice to the vegetables and heat.
  9. Briskly stir in 1 Tablespoon of flour. (Do not turn away while doing this or you may scorch the roux.)
  10. Add the tomatoes, Italian seasoning, crumbled bacon, Tony Chachere’s seasoning, Splenda and bay leaf and cook over medium heat until the tomatoes have broken down. Stir occasionally. If this gets too dry, add a little more tomato juice.
  11. Taste and add salt or pepper if needed.
  12. Allow this to simmer a few minutes while frying the catfish (see below).
  13. When the catfish is almost done, add the crawfish tails and half the lemon juice to the creole mix and continue cooking and stir occasionally until the crawfish are warm and mixed well.
  14. Remove from heat, stir well and taste. Make any final taste adjustments with salt and pepper, Tony Chachere’s seasoning and/or lemon juice. Stir well and cover.

The catfish fillets may be fried according to the directions on the breader. If directions included, be sure the fillets are coated well with the breader. The ingredients list shows 2/3 cup of peanut oil as this is what works well in my pan. You may need to use a little more or less.

Heat the peanut oil to just before it’s smoking and lower the breaded fillets into it. This will only take a few minutes. Turn them once and remove them just as they begin to turn golden brown. If you leave them in the pan until they’re fully golden brown, they will overcook. Remove them to a platter lined with paper towels to absorb any extra oil.

If you have sworn off fried fish, coat the catfish fillets with the breader and bake at 375 until they flake, turning them once.

Serve this by making a bed of rice on the plate, lay a catfish fillet or two across the rice, and spoon some of the creole mixture on top of the catfish. This has enough crawfish in the creole sauce to be sure everyone gets a few.

I like to begin this meal with a green salad or lettuce wedge. Warm bread pudding with chocolate drizzled on it is an excellent dessert. This is a great salute to Mardi Gras and Fat Tuesday and your bon temps will definitely rouler with this meal.

About Jerry Dilsaver 1167 Articles
Jerry Dilsaver of Oak Island, N.C., a full-time freelance writer, is a columnist for Carolina Sportsman. He is a former SKA National Champion and USAA Angler of the Year.

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