Creole Shrimp Sauce with Pan-fried Catfish

2 Tbsp oil
½ large onion, diced fine
2 stocks celery, chopped medium
1 red bell pepper, chopped medium
4 cloves garlic, pressed
1 jalapeño pepper, minced fine (not traditional Creole I know, but it adds sooooo much!)
1 - 16 oz cans tomato sauce
1 Tbsp Bart’s Creole Seasoning (or whatever good quality Creole seasoning you have available)

1 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
1 - 2 tsp sugar (add slowly and cook a bit between tasting to ensure you don’t get it too sweet)
Juice of 1 medium fresh lemon
1 bay leaf
Hot pepper sauce to taste

1 pound shrimp, 30 count, uncooked peeled and deveined

4 fresh catfish fillets, skinless and boneless, seasoned with Creole spice, ground pepper and a pinch of salt
3 Tbsp butter
3 Tbsp grapeseed oil

Place heavy bottom pan over medium heat and sauté onion, celery, red pepper, jalapeño and garlic for 3-4 minutes.  

Add tomato sauce, bay leaf, sugar, Creole Seasoning, lemon juice.  Bring mixture to a boil them turn down to simmer for 20 minutes.  Remove bay leaf then set to seasoning mixture with a pinch of salt to taste, a dash of hot pepper sauce to build it to the heat level you prefer and some fresh ground pepper. 

Serve this with 1 lb of peeled and deveined shrimp added at the 20 minute mark then cook them for 3-4 minutes, spoon over pan fried catfish just prior to serving. (Chicken thighs or breast, and any kind of fish works well. You can panfry, broil, poach or grill the meat, your choice!)

Place butter and oil in large non-stick frying pan, once the bubbling has stopped place catfish into pan and fry for 3-4 minutes, flip over to fry other side for 3-4-5 minutes or until cooked.

Timing is tough to call as it depends on the thickness.  Once fish is cooked to your liking remove from pan, then place on some folded paper towel to remove some butter and oil, then place on serving plate and top with shrimp and Creole sauce.

Serve over couscous, rice, noodles, potatoes or what have you. I served it with the Lemon and Jalapeno Couscous recipe that is posted elsewhere on the blog, perhaps you should as well...

Play with the proportions and you will arrive at a recipe that suits your taste buds.  Warmer, milder or screaming for a suicide pill hot, it is all good.

Serves 6

Pan Seared Halibut with Creamy Tarragon Shrimp Sauce

4 – 6 ounce halibut fillets, skinless and boneless
¼ cup clarified butter
1 fresh lime, cut in half
Salt and pepper to taste
8 oz shrimp, peeled and deveined
3 Tbsp flour
3 Tbsp clarified butter
1 medium shallot, minced very fine
1 garlic clove, pressed
1 cup dry white wine
1 – 1 ½ cups half and half cream, or milk if you are watching your fat content, but be daring
3 Tbsp Pecorino Romano cheeses freshly grated
1 tsp dried tarragon leaves, crushed
⅛ - ¼ tsp ground white pepper to taste
Salt to taste

Preheat oven to 400° F

In a small sauce pan over medium-low heat, add clarified butter, shallot, garlic and tarragon. Sauté for 2-3 minutes until shallot is translucent. Add flour to butter/shallot mixture and now you’re making a roux. Cook roux over heat until a nutty smell rises from the pan and the butter and flour are very familiar with each other; about 3 minutes. Don’t brown the roux, it needs to be white. Remove pan from heat for 2-3 minutes to allow roux to cool a bit.

Place roux back over medium-low heat then add white wine, pepper and cream while whisking to keep free from lumps and bring to hot, but not quite boiling, then simmer over low heat for 10 minutes to cook the wine off.  It may get thick but that is okay for now. Stir occasionally to keep from sticking and burning. At 10 minutes add the Pecorino Romano cheese and whisk until smooth and well incorporated, melted even.

Season both sides of the halibut fillets with salt and freshly ground black pepper. In a large frying pan, add clarified butter and heat until the butter is shimmering but not browning. Once butter is hot, place halibut in the pan and fry for 2 minutes per side. Gently remove halibut from pan and place on non stick cookie tray and place in hot oven. Once the fish is in the oven, turn the oven off.

In the same pan you cooked the halibut in, place back over high heat and once hot add the shrimp and sauté the shrimp for 2-4 minutes (depends on the size) until just barely cooked through. Place shrimp in the sauce and stir in. If the sauce is too thick add milk or cream a little at a time and stir, add enough into the sauce until it reaches the desired consistency.  It is a sauce, not a gloppy wallpaper paste, so it should simply coat the back of a spoon evenly when dipped into it, but not cling in a thick paste-like coating, that would be bad.

The halibut should be ready to remove from the oven. Check for doneness by lifting a corner with a fork, it should still be a little translucent in the middle and be flaky. Don’t overcook the fish for God’s sake. Please!!!

Plate the halibut and cover with a few tablespoons of sauce and shrimp. Sprinkle a little bit of the Pecorino cheese for flair.

Serve immediately and enjoy.

This dish would go well with any starch, or none at all if you choose. Grilled vegetables are especially welcomed by the sauce, and if you have some, top them with a bit of sauce too so they don’t feel left out.