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)
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.
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 WhatscookinNEPhilly@gmail.com or in care of the Northeast Times, 2512 Metropolitan Drive, Trevose, PA 19053)