The Tar Heel Kitchen: Herb-grilled catfish

by | Jun 18, 2015


Since 1926, the Agricultural Review has been a free newspaper published by the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. For many years, The Tar Heel Kitchen was a featured column written by the department’s marketing home economist.

These recipes tended to be seasonal with just a handful of ingredients. We thought these recipes needed to be shared in a new format. The Tar Heel Kitchen post will unearth a few of these timeless recipes each month. This week we are revisiting the October 1994 issue and a couple of fresh fish recipes.

“In my family I grew up eating fresh fish,” said Barbara “Babs” Wilkinson, former NCDA&CS home economist. “Most of the time it was fried and served with hush puppies and slaw. Now that I am the one preparing the fish (and not too keen on fried foods if I have to do the frying), I’m always looking for different ways to prepare the catch.”

Babs offers this advice for choosing the freshest fish: “As far as guidelines for the best quality, the flesh should be firm and spring back when pressed gently. Fresh fillets and steaks are moist and firm, and look freshly cut; they should show no traces of drying or browning at edges. The odor should be fresh and mild. Never buy fish whose odor is disagreeably strong – it won’t taste any better than it smells.”

“The eyes of a really fresh fish are clear, full and often protruding; cloudy sunken eyes indicate an old fish that’s starting to spoil,” she added. “The gills should be pinkish-red and free of slime; as the fish ages, the gills turn gray, then brownish or greenish. Finally, the skin of a whole fish should be shiny, with unfaded color and pronounced markings.”

Herb-Grilled Catfish

  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried whole thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried whole oregano
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 10 farm-raised catfish fillets
  • vegetable cooking spray
  • fresh oregano (optional)
  • fresh thyme (optional)

Combine first seven ingredients. Sprinkle mixture evenly on both sides of fillets. Place fillets in grilling basket coated with cooking spray. Coat grill rack with cooking spray; place on grill over medium-hot coals (350 to 400 degrees). Place basket on rack; grill, covered, 4 minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork.  Transfer to a serving platter.  If desired, garnish with fresh oregano and thyme.

Apple-licious Fish

  • Your favorite fish
  • Enough apple juice to cover fish pieces

Pan broil your favorite fish in just enough apple juice to cover fish pieces. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on thickness of fish.