Golden, corn meal encrusted fried catfish is a renowned staple south of the Mason Dixon, and even in NYC during the New York Mississippi Society’s Annual Picnic in Central Park. But when one needs a catfish culinary change of pace, this is a refreshing start. Delicate and highly cultivated steamed Mississippi catfish and its stock form the base of this hearty chowder, and a light curry imbues each kernel of the flavor sodden Missimati Bayou Bouquet Fragrant White Rice. Coconut’s oil and milk soften and flavor the tender Mississippi sweet potatoes and other vegetables that enrich the colors, texture, and taste of the dish.
2 pounds Mississippi raised Catfish, bone in, skinned
4 cups water for steaming fish
1 cup drier white wine (Sauvignon Blanc perfect)
1 14oz can coconut milk
1 tsp white vinegar
1 large sweet potato, peeled, cubed in ½ inch pieces
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 small Vidalia onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 rib celery, split lengthwise then minced
3 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
Zest from 1 large lemon
Juice from 1 large lemon
1 tbsp coriander, fresh ground
Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
1 tbsp Thai red curry paste
¾ cup plus 2 tbsp Ecogrown Missimati Bayou Bouquet Fragrant White Rice
3 tbsp coconut palm sugar (brown sugar may be substituted)
¼ cup cilantro, finely chopped
4 scallions, chopped, divided
2 tbsp quality fish sauce
Whole sweet milk, for thinning
In large stockpot, bring 4 cup water, wine, and vinegar to boil. Add catfish, cover, and simmer until fish is cooked and loose from bones. Using spatula or slotted spoon, carefully remove to plate to cool. When cool, remove meat from bones and place bones back in water to boil for 10 more minutes. Remove bones and discard. After straining stock to remove potential bones, add coconut milk to stock and simmer.
In medium sauté skillet, melt coconut oil and add sweet potato. Sauté until flesh begins to soften (may slightly brown on outside). Remove to bowl and set aside. Add onion, celery, and bell pepper to oil and sauté until onion softened. Add ginger, coriander, and lemon zest to onion and pepper, sautéing to soften the zest. Add red curry paste and black pepper; blend in well while heating.
Meanwhile, into the simmering stock of fish and coconut milk, add the rice, stirring once. Simmer for 5 minutes, then add the lemon juice, sugar, ¾ of the scallions, fish sauce, cilantro, and onion and bell pepper mixture; blend in well and simmer for 2 minutes. Add sweet potatoes and catfish meat, blend in, cover with lid and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove lid, stir, and check rice for doneness. If done, note the thickness of chowder; if too thick, add sweet milk in ¼ cup increments until desired thickness obtained. Reheat if milk added, then let sit for 5 minutes before serving. Once in bowls, top with remaining chopped scallions and enjoy!