If, like most of us, you’re trying to eat more healthily, you probably know you should be eating more fish.
Personally, I love just about every kind of seafood, cooked almost any way. But I know many people who think they only like fried fish, or that they don’t really like fish at all. So I always like to recommend a widely available fish that almost everybody knows and likes: Catfish.
Sure, you probably grew up thinking the only way to eat it was fried, preferably with hush puppies on the side. But today’s farm-raised catfish is so mild and meaty, it tastes great prepared many ways – grilled, baked, sautéed, poached or just popped under the broiler for a few minutes. And because catfish is so mild, it pairs well with a strongly flavored sauce or lots of herbs, especially dried or fresh dill or spicy, Cajun-style seasonings.
And, if you don’t fry it, catfish is a really good choice for a low-fat, heart-healthy diet. It’s sometimes overlooked because, compared to fattier fish like salmon and mackerel, catfish does not contain as much of the omega-3 fatty acids that are associated with good heart health. However, catfish is relatively low in total fat and saturated fat, and high in protein. And it also has more omega-3s than a comparable serving of hamburger, steak, or chicken.
One more thing – catfish is a relatively sustainable fish. That means, unlike some species that are being overfished in the world’s oceans, lakes and rivers, catfish are responsibly raised by farmers in fresh-water ponds. U.S.-raised catfish, like you’ll find at Brookshire’s, are fed high-quality grain that contribute to their mild flavor. Catfish sold at Brookshire’s come from a plant in Hughes Springs, Texas, which has attained Best Aquaculture Practices certification.
Because they are farmed, not wild-caught, catfish filets have always tended to be more reasonably priced than many other forms of seafood. However, over the past several months, you may have noticed higher prices for catfish. That’s because as more corn has gone into ethanol production, catfish feed prices have risen sharply, causing some catfish farmers to turn to other ventures. That’s created a catfish shortage. However, I’m happy to report that the shortage is easing up; you may already be seeing lower prices.
If you’d like to move beyond the deep-fryer, this easy grilled catfish dish is a great one to start with. The dill sauce adds lots of flavor, but because it calls for low-fat dressing, not a ton of fat. The filets will cook in only about ten minutes. If you’re uncomfortable putting fish on the grill, you can prepare this recipe according to instructions but then bake it in a 350-degree oven for about 7-10 minutes, or until fish is just starting to flake. (Thinner filets will need slightly less time; thicker pieces will need the maximum.)