So a couple of weeks ago, I posted a side dish recipe inspired by the video game Red Dead Redemption 2. And as much as you could just eat a bowl of peas and potatoes and call it a day, I figure it’s time to offer up some entree options.
I have three. But the more I wrote, the longer the post got. So we’re splitting it into courses, ya’ll. How about we start with some fish?
Click here to skip to the recipe for Rhodes Catfish.
From River to Rhodes Parlour House
We’ll start our Red Dead culinary tour in the state of Lemoyne at the Rhodes Parlour House for a plate of fried catfish with
greens and boiled beans peas and potatoes.
Lemoyne is RDR2’s fictional take on Louisiana. So I figured Cajun blackening seasoning likely coats this hunk of river fish in a crispy, spicy crust. I don’t like presenting recipes you could find on the back of a spice can, though. That’s not my style. So when I learned about Lemoyne’s Chinese immigrant population, I blended in some complementary additions
Soaking this bottom-feeder in buttermilk removes that muddy flavor from catfish while tenderizing and imparting a creamy quality. You can buy buttermilk, but you can also sub it by adding culinary acid to whole milk. I used orange juice and milk to incorporate that tasty zest into my seasoning. Oranges are a common gift in Chinese culture for their color and association with abundance and good luck. They also offer a warmer, sweeter acidity that balances heavy spices.
Speaking of spices, I will not task you with making a from-scratch blackening seasoning (unless you already do that). I just recommend that you use a brand that has as little salt as possible — or better yet, no salt at all. I learned this the hard way. To that, I also added another Chinese ingredient: Sichuan peppercorn.
These dried fruits from the prickly ash tree contain hydroxy-alpha-sanshool, a chemical compound believed to cause a numbing, tingling sensation on the tongue. That numbing feeling, paired with the pepper’s citrusy zing, tames the heat and enhances the other flavors without muddying them.
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 also have printable PDF recipe cards and thematic cook-along Spotify playlists as rewards for those who choose to support the blog.
The printable recipe card and playlist for this Rhodes Fried Catfish inspired by Red Dead Redemption 2 will be available as a $2 donor reward on my Ko-Fi page until the next post goes up. After that, just the card will be available in my Ko-Fi shop.
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. To get you started, patrons of all reward tiers receive a welcome gift of my Lord of the Rings recipe cards and playlists from January 2019.
You, Sir, are a Fish
Rhodes Fried Catfish
Equipment: Stovetop, zester, large cast-iron skillet, a large baking dish with lid, and paper towels.
- 4 skinless catfish fillets
- 1 cup milk
- 1 orange
- 1/2 cup salt-free or low-salt Cajun seasoning
- 2 tsp dried tarragon
- 1 Tb smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp ground Sichuan pepper
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 4 Tb unsalted butter
- kosher salt
- At least an hour and a half before serving, zest half of the orange, then juice that half into the milk. Quart the other orange half and set aside.
- Blend the zest, cajun seasoning, and other herbs and spices into a separate bowl. Set aside.
- Place the catfish in the baking dish and pour the milk mixture over to coat. Cover with the lid or plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 3 days.
- Prepare your side dishes while waiting. After at least an hour, drain the fish and pat dry with paper towels.
- Season the fish with kosher salt, then dredge each fillet in a quarter of the seasoning blend. Press to adhere, then start preheating the skillet over a medium-high flame.
- Add half of the butter to the hot pan. Once melted, add two fillets and cook for 2 minutes on each side. Repeat with the remaining butter and fish.
- Transfer the fish to plates and serve with a side dish and orange wedges.