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Catfish Pontchartrain

Saturday was a sad day. We journeyed down to Geaux Burger only to discover a sign on the door saying that they were closed for business. I liked the place because they had an amazing veggie burger and you could choose from a variety of free toppings for your burger. I was partial to a combo of swiss cheese, mushrooms, and grilled onions. Mason liked it because their burgers were great and, on top of that, it was run by some Louisianans who were big Saints and LSU fans.

Anyway, we ended up at Phil’s Ice House instead, and afterwards headed to Quality Seafood. Mason was still in a Cajun state of mind and wanted to buy some fish. He got some catfish fillets and shrimp, and asked that I concoct a sauce for the fish that was creamy and used the shrimp. I immediately thought of Pontchartrain (PON-choo-train) sauce, which  usually involves white wine, cream, butter, and crab or shrimp.

While delicious, I knew I didn’t want to make something that fattening. Because I like how my jeans fit just fine, thank you. I came up with this variation that’s still rich and tasty, but a bit lighter. I served with dirty rice.

Catfish Pontchartrain
2 8oz catfish fillets (or 1 pound of another firm, white fish)
1-2 tbsp of seafood seasoning, such as Old Bay or Adam’s Reserve
Salt and pepper to taste
3 tbsp canola oil
1.5 cups dry white wine (I used Fall Creek Chenin Blanc)
1 cup water or seafood stock
1/2 lb shrimp, peeled and roughly chopped into about 1/4 in. pieces
1 tsp. dried thyme
2 tbsp. flour
2 tbsp. butter
1/4 c. water
Juice from 1 lemon (about 3 tbsp.)

To prepare sauce, combine wine, 1 c. water or stock, salt, pepper, and thyme in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil and boil rapidly for about 5 minutes. Turn heat down to medium high and add shrimp. Cook 10 minutes, until sauce has reduced some.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a large, nonstick skillet. Season fish with salt, pepper, and seafood seasoning. Add to skillet and cook about 6-7 minutes on each side, until fish flakes easily with a fork. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels and keep warm.

Combine flour and 1/4 c. water, mixing well with a fork until the mixture is thick and smooth. It should be as close to lump-free as possible. Add to shrimp mixture and cook about 5 minutes more, until mixture has thickened and drips off of a spoon with the consistency of maple syrup.  Turn off heat and add butter and lemon juice, stirring until butter melts. Adjust salt and pepper if necessary, and serve sauce over fish.

I served with a 2008 Martin Codax albarino, a bright Spanish white wine.

ETA: Yes, I call myself a vegetarian and yes, I ate this meal. I spent the day making dal, fajita fillings, and cracked wheat bread from my favorite bread cookbook, The Bread Bible. By the end of the day my feet hurt and I was hungry. So I ate. 🙂

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