I’m still alive, folks! Kicking…maybe? After a heck-ish week, let’s take a break with something a little more wholesome. Who likes chilling out with some books from childhood? I ask because today’s recipe, Kattfish Stew, is a fan request from Twitter User @PrinceZeneon from his favorite kid’s book, Katt vs. Dogg by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein.
Click here to skip to the recipe for Kattfish Stew.
Katt vs. Dogg
In a world of anthropomorphic animals, there is no greater hatred than that between katts and doggs. The story opens on a road rage race between two families, one feline, the other canine, towards a fun-filled camping trip at Western Frontier Park. We see spit, insults, and hairballs fly before the katts and doggs tromp off to their separate, species-specific campsites.
Their isolated, bacon-filled bliss cuts short, though, when a flying squirrel and butterfly draw out and then lose young Oscar Dogg and Molly Hisselton into the deep woods. Lost, alone, and chased by a hungry mountain lion, Oscar and Molly find themselves in the most unlikely of alliances to find their way back home.
What ensues is a journey filled with danger and life lessons about societal discrimination, propaganda, and cooperation. And while it’s not an in-depth lesson on the dangers of racism in a multicultural society, it’s a fun read for both kids and adults to start conversations about diversity.
Today’s recipe comes from when Molly and Oscar stumble onto Granny’s farm. Granny is a “doggkatt” whose great-great-grandparents were a dogg and a katt who “got lost in the wilderness,(…) had a lot of close scrapes and angry words but (..) realized that the only way the two of them could survive out here on the far edge of civilization was to work together.”
She serves them “Kattfish Stew” which is apparently ok for doggs to eat because it’s kattfish. This is a book on prejudice and friendship, folks, not biology. Think maybe Beastars with a lot less violence and a lot more puns. Anyway, I digress.
The point is that since a doggkatt made this dish, it is likely something that would appeal to both anthropomorphic dogs and cats. Most catfish stew recipes tend to aim towards Cajun style cooking with tomatoes and peppers. I didn’t see either in the book, though Granny does grow corn on her farm.
With that, I decided to make a Scandanavian style fisksuppe using catfish because its combination of fish stock and dairy pairs well with the farm’s corn. Also, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but fish and milk are kind of a cat’s favorite things.
Catfish do tend to take on a muddy flavor, though. But you can make that essence de mudpie float away by soaking the fish in a buttermilk marinade.
To bring all those beautiful flavors out, I needed some kind of cooking fat. And since the Dogg’s campsite is chock-full of pork products (bacon, sausage, meatloaf sandwiches, bacon smoothies), I figured that Granny would either get her paws on some bacon from there–or hunting down a weasel-boar. Who’s to say?
Milk, bacon, corn, carrots, sage, and catfish. With a perfect combination of flavors as these, this stew is a delicious reminder that learning to understand and compromise is far more satisfying than living in hate.
Sing for your Supper!
If you plan to cook the recipe off the site, keep scrolling. However, while access to recipes on the blog will always be free, I now have printable PDF recipe cards and thematic cook-along Spotify playlists as rewards for those who choose to support the blog.
The printable recipe cards and playlist for Kattfish Stew will be available as a $2 donor reward on my Ko-Fi page until the next post goes up.
You can instead join my Patreon community at the “Sing for your Supper” level ($1/month) for access to the playlists or the “It’s All in the Cards” level ($5/month) or higher for access to ALL of my blog recipe cards and playlists. Patrons of all reward tiers will even receive a welcome gift of my Lord of the Rings recipe cards and playlists from January 2019 to get you started.
Kattfish? My favorite thing!
Equipment: Medium-sized baking dish with a lid, refrigerator, stovetop, and a dutch oven with lid.
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 and 1/4 lb catfish fillets
- 4 strips bacon
- 2 cups diced carrots
- 2 cups fresh corn kernels
- 4 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 fish bouillon cube
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- kosher salt
At least one hour before cooking:
Stir the marinade ingredients in a measuring cup. Place the fish in the baking dish and pour the milk mixture over to coat. Top the dish with the lid and refrigerate at least one hour and up to three days.
When ready to cook:
- Cook the bacon in the dutch oven over medium heat on the stovetop until crispy. Remove the bacon and dry it on a paper towel-lined plate. Chop roughly then set aside.
- Pour the carrots into the bacon fat and reduce the heat to medium-low. Saute, stirring intermittently, for 10 minutes.
- In the meantime, drain and discard the marinade from the catfish. Pat the fillets dry with paper towels. Then slice one into half-inch squares and add it to the pot.
- Stir the corn, butter, sage, and a pinch of kosher salt. When the butter melts, stir in the flour and cook for another minute.
- Pour in the water and the stock cube and then bring it to a boil. Cover the pot with the lid and reduce the heat to low. Let simmer for 30 minutes.
- Cut the remaining fish into one-and-a-half-inch chunks then transfer them to the pot. Bring to a boil again, cover and lower the heat, then simmer another 10 minutes.
- Remove the cover and pour in the milk and cream. Cook for five minutes before turning off the stove. Ladle the stew into bowls and top with chopped bacon before serving.