I’m just going to say this: I love fried food. There. I’ve said it and I meant it, too. There’s just not much better in this world to me than a perfectly cooked piece of fried chicken. Or country fried steak. Or fish. I could go on and on.
I realize that part of my love of fried food is cultural. When I was growing up, an everyday meal consisted of some kind of meat, more often than not fried, accompanied by two or three vegetables and bread. The proverbial “meat and three” that I see so often referenced these days. My daddy loved a fried t-bone steak. That’s right, fried. Mama would salt and pepper a t-bone, dredge it in flour and ease it down into hot oil in a black iron skillet to cook. It came out golden brown and slightly crispy on the outside and juicy and moist on the inside. Hmmm…I hadn’t thought of that in years until I started writing this. Of course, we all learned that there were more healthful ways to eat and gradually our diet changed. Fewer fried foods, more baked or roasted meats. But I still sometimes crave that good old fried food.
All those years ago frying was an inexpensive and easy way to prepare the main meat course so that’s what was done. I mean, for goodness sakes, people back then were busy! We just think we’re busy these days. Laboring in the field from sunup to sundown or taking care of children and running a household a few decades in the past was a much more taxing existence than it is today. But back then people could handle a more calorie-laden diet because of all the manual labor they did. Today, not so much. So, even though I still love my fried foods and greatly enjoy them on occasion, I do look for ways to cook that are somewhat more healthful.
I saw this recipe recently for Baked Catfish in one of Taste of Home’s publications. The fish is coated with a delicious blend of herbs and spices, then drizzled with butter and lemon juice and baked. What a great change of pace from the usual fried catfish! We quite enjoyed it and I’m happy to share it with you, too.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Combine the parsley, salt, paprika, thyme, oregano, basil and pepper in a small bowl.
Sprinkle the spice-herb mixture over both sides of the catfish fillets. Place the fillets in a 9×13 baking pan that has been coated with non-stick cooking spray. I also lined my pan with foil just because it makes it so much easier to clean.
Add the melted butter, lemon juice and garlic powder to a small bowl. Mix well to combine.
Drizzle the butter-lemon-garlic mixture over the fillets.
Bake uncovered for 15-20 minutes or until the fish flakes easily.
—Recipe adapted from Taste of Home’s Busy Family Recipes, Winter 2011