Serves 4
Responsibly farmed catfish, like the kind we serve at Brown Sugar Kitchen, are a "best choice" on the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch list. Catfish is very delicate, and not a good choice for grilling, but perfect for this preparation. I think its slightly sweet flavor is a great foil for some spice and this blackening spice definitely has a kick. Get out your cast-iron skillet and get real. Nothing tastes better with this dish than sweet corn and in-season tomatoes.

  • 1 cup/215 g long-grain white rice 
  • 1 cup/240 ml water 
  • 1/4 tsp Creole Spice Mix (recipe follows) 
  • 1 tbsp minced fresh parsley 
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter 
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt 
  • Four 6-oz/170-g catfish fillets 
  • 1 tbsp Blackening Spice (recipe follows) 
  • 1 tbsp canola oil 
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced 
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice 
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme 
  • 1/4 cup/60 ml Roasted Red Pepper Sauce (recipe follows)
In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the rice with the water. Cook, uncovered, over high heat until steam holes appear on the surface of the rice. Reduce the heat to very low, cover the pan, and cook for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand, covered, for 5 minutes. Add the Creole Spice Mix, parsley, 1 tbsp of the butter, and the salt to the rice and fluff with a fork. Cover and set aside. 

Coat the catfish fillets evenly with the blackening spice. In a cast-iron frying pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the catfish and cook until the bottoms are browned, about 2 minutes. Carefully turn the catfish over and add the remaining 1 tbsp butter, the garlic, lemon juice, and thyme. Cook, taking a spoon and pouring the juices over the catfish once or twice, until the catfish is browned and flakes easily, about 2 minutes. 

Place the fish fillets on individual plates. Stir any remaining pan juices into the rice, and spoon the rice alongside the fish. Drizzle with the Roasted Red Pepper Sauce. Serve immediately.

Creole Spice Mix
Makes about 1 1/2 cups/200 g 

  • 3 tbsp kosher salt 
  • 3 tbsp herbes de Provence 
  • 3 tbsp ground cumin 
  • 1/3 cup/45 g cayenne pepper 
  • 1/4 cup/30 g freshly ground black pepper 
  • 1/4 cup/30 g sweet paprika
In a small bowl, stir together the salt, herbes de Provence, cumin, cayenne, black pepper, and paprika until thoroughly combined. (to make ahead, store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.)

Blackening Spice 

  • 1 tsp kosher salt 
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika 
  • 1 tsp onion powder 
  • 3/4 tsp garlic powder 
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper 
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano 
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
In a small bowl, combine the salt, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, black pepper, oregano, and thyme.

Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
Makes 2 cups/480 ml

  • One 15-oz/430-g jar roasted red bell peppers 
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced 
  • 2 dashes of Tabasco sauce, plus more as needed 
  • Kosher salt

Drain the peppers, reserving the liquid. In a blender, combine the roasted peppers and 1/4 cup/60 ml of their liquid, the garlic, and Tabasco sauce and process until smooth. Taste and season with Tabasco sauce and salt. (To make ahead, refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 1 week.)