With over 80 percent of the world’s natural fisheries distressed or overfished; sustainability has fast become a very important concept. Concentrating on local wild caught and farm raised species is a simple way to be environmentally conscience as well as cautious. Here in North Carolina we have farm raised catfish that is both sustainable and environmentally friendly. It is in the best interest of the farmers to supply their fish with a clean and healthy ecosystem in which to optimize their harvest. The fish farmers must use a closed water (ponds) system that is regulated by the EPA for pollution; meets NC water quality standards and recycles fish waste as compost.
There are some large advantages to this farm raised situation, like year round availability, freshness of product and market control. NC farm raised catfish is rich in protein, lower in fat, calories and cholesterol than beef, chicken and pork. To be considered sustainability conscience it starts with the consumer. When choosing restaurants most will list the fact that they are using local seafood such as Zely and Ritz www.zelyandritz.comlocated on Glenwood Ave. a recent menu listed NC Tuna and Flounder as entrée choices. When purchasing retail for use in a recipe or at home most products are listed as sustainable, a couple of sustainable conscience markets in the Triangle are Whole Foods Market http://www.wholefoodsmarket.comand Harris Teeter’s http://www.harristeeter.com. The choices you make can and will impact this very sensitive issue facing one of mankind’s most precious resources.
While most NC catfish is Calabash style, in a light seasoned cornmeal and flour then quick fried. Here is a more modern, healthier southern preparation.
Grilled Catfish with a Charred Tomato, Butterbean and Corn Relish
By Joseph V. Fasy
4 North Carolina Farm Raised Catfish fillets
1 teaspoon of sea salt
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
For the Charred Tomato Relish:
4 large Roma tomatoes, grilled and chopped
½ cup chopped green onion, tops and bottoms
1 cup cooked lima beans
1 cup cooked and kernelled fresh or frozen corn
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
3 T. red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon of sea salt
- Prepare a grill or preheat the broiler. Char tomatoes first.
- Sprinkle catfish fillets with garlic powder, salt, pepper and cayenne.
- Place on well oiled grill or broiler pan, 4 inches from heat source and cook for 5 minutes on each side. Do not overcook.
- For the Charred Tomato Relish; place all ingredients in a medium bowl and toss. Allow to marinate for 30 minutes.
- Serve catfish on a bed of Charred Tomato Relish with some green onion and fresh thyme to garnish.