Cookbook #38: Great Good Food

Adapted from Cookbook #38:  Great Good Food

Recipe:  Catfish with Black Bean Salsa

My grandfather died when I was in college--I was away and I didn't return to my hometown for the funeral.  But I remember him well: the cans of Budweiser, the little white house, the tacky bronze fountain with a naked woman in it in his living room, and the fish cook outs.  He had a fishing shack in a small town on the Mississippi River and from time to time he would take my brother and me fishing with him.  I don't particularly remember liking fishing, but I certainly appreciated all of the accessories.  For my birthday, I was gifted a fishing rod, and I had a fishing hat onto which I could hook my tackle.  In the garage I kept a small orange tackle box with fifteen little compartments into which I could put my fancy jiggling lures or my plain sinkers.  I would sometimes pull it down from the shelf above my father's work bench, and I would line up all of my lures in row, counting them, admiring their rainbow colors. My brother had a bigger, far more spectacular tackle box, with a hinged shelf that would flip open when he lifted the lid.  I envied him.

During the summer, Grandpa would hold fish fries in the backyard, and the grandkids would hang off his arm as he tried to shoo us away as he dropped bluegills and catfish into a drum bubbling with hot oil.  It was the 80s.  Children and hot oil mixed.  We grew tired of listening to the adults talk as they sat in their lawn chairs and smoked their cigarettes, and we would run around the backyard, dodging badminton birdies and the errant lawn dart thrown by the older grandkids.

This recipe is hardly a fish fry.  Grandpa would have cursed the black bean salsa.  He would have laughed off the baking of the fish rather than its frying.  But I did use catfish, and I thought of him.

This is a simple, easy way to bring more fish into your life.  Given the hoopla about omega-3 fatty acid and fish oil, bringing more fish into your life is a good thing.  The salsa is simple and easy to make--it would be a fine salsa to have with tortilla chips or with a sauteed chicken breast.

Julee Rosso, the cookbook author,  is the co-owner of The Silver Palate--the gourmet food shop and eventually the cook book series.  All in all, the recipe is representative of the rest of the cookbook.  Nothing that will knock your socks off--just basic, good recipes that work for weeknights. And a wonderful way to remember my Grandpa.  I miss him.

Serves 4

1-1/2 cups diced tomato
1 cup cooked black beans
3/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 jalapeno pepper, finely minced
Salt and Pepper
2 pounds fresh fish (catfish, snapper, cod)
3 tablespoons fresh lime or lemon juice
Grated zest of 2 lemons or limes

1.In  medium-size mixing bowl, combine the tomato, black beans, cilantro, vinegar, jalapeno, and salt and pepper (to taste).  Mix well.  Set aside at room temperature for 30 minutes, stirring once or twice.

2.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

3.  Place each fish fillet on a piece of aluminum foil large enough to enclose it.  Sprinkle each fillet with citrus (lemon or lime) juice and zest.  Season with pepper to taste.

4. Close the packages by folding the foil over the fish and tightly sealing the edges.  Back for 25 to 35 minutes, until the fish is opaque and flakes when pierced with a fork.

5.  Serve with a generous portion of salsa.


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