Southern Food Makeover: Fried Catfish and Collard Greens Reborn

I love fried catfish, especially with remoulade sauce. The combination of the crispy crunchy fish with the creamy piquant sauce is addicting. But I hate the mess of making fried food and it’s definitely not high on the list of healthy choices. It’s ripe for a makeover.

And then there’s collard greens. Dark leafy greens are a superfood, but cooked in the traditional Southern style, they are laced with huge hunks of salty ham hocks and boiled within an inch of their life. I couldn’t leave those poor greens behind.

Crispy Oven Fried Catfish

Through the magic of panko, I was able to trade deep-frying for oven-frying but still keep the crispy crunchy goodness of the original. Serves 4.

  • 1 lb fresh catfish fillets, cut into 3 oz pieces
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 c. panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)

    Ready for the Oven

  • 1/4 c. yellow cornmeal
  • 1/2 t. chili powder
  • 1/4 t. smoked paprika

Preheat the oven to 500. Mix all dry ingredients together. Salt and pepper each fillet, dip in beaten egg and then into dry mixture, making sure to coat well. Brush oil onto sheet pan, place fish on pan and bake in the preheated oven for 6 minutes or until browned on bottom. Carefully flip fish over and bake another 6 minutes.

Remoulade Sauce

  • 1 c. mayonnaise
  • 3 T. country style Dijon mustard
  • 1 t. lemon juice
  • 1 T. ketchup
  • 1 t. chili powder
  • 1/4 c. italian parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 c. green onion, chopped
  • 1/4 c. sour pickles, chopped (optional)

Mix all ingredients together, chill at least 20 minutes to allow flavors to blend.

Sauteed Collard Greens

The small amount of bacon adds a smoky flavor without overwhelming the greens with porkiness. The lemon juice adds a bright note that cuts some of the bitterness of the greens. Serves 4.

  • 1 bunch fresh collard greens
  • 1/3 c. mild onion, chopped
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 piece fried bacon, crumbled (use more or less according to your pork preferences)
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • juice of 1/2 lemon

Wash greens well and dry. Remove tough center rib:

Take leaf and roll like a cigar, slice into 1/4 in. ribbons.

Heat olive oil on medium heat in large skillet, add onions and garlic and saute until softened. Add greens and saute, stirring, for 2-3 minutes or until bright green and slightly softened. Drizzle with lemon juice, adding more to taste. Add bacon and toss. Serve with your favorite hot sauce or pepper sauce.