Catfish wraps

Tasty fish wraps of­fer a healthy dose of omega-3.

Au­tumn is of­fi­cially here. I’ve heard and seen honk­ing geese in “V” form­a­tion fly­ing south. Even if you don’t listen to KYW in the morn­ing, there’s that chill in the air and you know it’s time to get out your sweat­er or jack­et. Last week, I took a brisk, morn­ing walk out­side with my sweat­er wrapped tightly around me. I was try­ing to de­cide what to have for din­ner and it hit me – Cat­fish Wraps. These cat­fish are really good bundled up with to­ma­toes, lettuce, cheese, onions and black olives and wrapped in soft whole wheat tor­til­las.

There are many vari­et­ies of cat­fish, and they are one of the most pop­u­lar fish con­sumed in the United States. They are tasty, priced re­l­at­ively low, and con­tain heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. They are a good source of pro­tein, as well as thiam­ine, po­tassi­um and sel­en­i­um, Vit­am­in D, Vit­am­in B12 and phos­phor­us, but they do con­tain cho­les­ter­ol.

Most sea­food is iden­ti­fied by its coun­try of ori­gin and states wheth­er it is farm raised or wild. If you’ve seen Swai, Basa, Tra (widely farmed in Vi­et­nam) and Pan­gas­i­us in the mar­ket, they are really South­east Asi­an cat­fish, but can­not be mar­keted here us­ing the name cat­fish be­cause of trade re­stric­tions and tar­iffs.

If you no­tice Dela­cata fish on the mar­ket soon, they are a newly de­veloped, thick­er, premi­um cat­fish that is be­ing pro­moted by the Cat­fish In­sti­tute and touted as the “filet mignon of cat­fish.” This vari­ety will not be found swim­ming in the Delaware River.

“Fish is brain food.”  I re­mem­ber hear­ing those words when Soph­ie made fish fre­quently for Fri­day din­ners. Whenev­er I asked her why fish was brain food, she would say, “Be­cause it is!” In those days, you didn’t reas­on why, you just ate your fish. Ap­par­ently, my mom was right.  Mul­tiple stud­ies and re­search have shown that eat­ing fish im­proves brain func­tion­ing for both old and young. The omega-3’s are good for your brain.

Nowadays, I could eat fish any day of the week, and some days I make the fol­low­ing Cat­fish Wraps.


1¼ lb. cat­fish nug­gets (If nug­gets are large, cut in­to uni­form pieces)

Cat­fish Rub:

1 tsp. each: dried oregano, basil, thyme

1 tsp. gar­lic powder

1½ Tb­sp. each: paprika and chili powder

1 tsp. dry mus­tard

½ tsp. pep­per   

¼ tsp. cay­enne pep­per

-Put Cat­fish Rub spices in a brown pa­per lunch bag and shake to mix.

-Add cat­fish nug­gets and shake un­til pieces are well coated.

-Line a bak­ing pan with alu­min­um foil and spray foil-lined pan with can­ola oil.

-Ar­range cat­fish in single lay­er. Spray fish lightly with oil.

-Broil 10-12 minutes. Turn nug­gets and broil an ad­di­tion­al 5-10 minutes or more un­til nug­gets are slightly browned and thor­oughly         cooked. 

While the cat­fish cooks, pre­pare the fol­low­ing to in­clude in the wraps:

2 to­ma­toes, chopped

2 cups shred­ded lettuce 

1 onion, chopped

1 cup shred­ded ched­dar cheese 

1 cup black olives, chopped (op­tion­al)

4 whole wheat tor­til­las

Lime Cream – 1 cup sour cream mixed with 1/3 fresh lime

-Let every­body as­semble their own wrap and serve with Lime Cream, salsa and lime wedges on the side.

I’m end­ing my column with a little cat­fish poem in the style of the poet, Og­den Nash, writ­ten by one of his de­votees.

The Cat­fish

I fear the cat­fish is mis­named,

Al­though a semb­lance is pro­claimed.

Ask any per­son in a crowd,

No one has heard one that meowed.

I missed it this year, but I’m go­ing to mark my cal­en­dar for next June 25. In 1987, Con­gress in Joint Res­ol­u­tion 178 au­thor­ized Pres­id­ent Ron­ald Re­agan to de­clare June 25 as Na­tion­al Cat­fish Day. With the stroke of a pen on Pro­clam­a­tion 5672, the deed was done. I bet that really got the Cat­fish in­dustry lob­by­ists purring. Did the cat­fish lob­by­ists slip them a few fins? What con­tro­versy! This may sound a little fishy, but it is true.

Now that’s a wrap!

Eat well, live long, en­joy! ••

(Ques­tions or tips can be sent to Donna Zit­ter Bor­de­lon at Whats­cook­in­ or in care of the North­east Times, 2512 Met­ro­pol­it­an Drive, Tre­vose, PA 19053)

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