I didn’t appreciate seafood much growing up. Such a shame since my dad (“appa”), a true lover of the open waters, had no problems spoiling us, his family, with the best and the freshest quality seafood available. I was that girl who ordered chicken even in the presence of king crab. Things have certainly changed over the years, as now I can’t eat enough seafood to satisfy me. Here’s a fun fact: Appa and my father-in-law attended the same Merchant Marine university in Pusan, Korea! They didn’t know each other back then as there’s a 10 year difference between them, but now they are family .
Appa loves the tranquility and at the same time the unpredictability of the ocean. It represents his childhood and his manhood, and to him it serves as a representation of his vitality. He wanted nothing more than to immerse his 3 (ungrateful) children in the beauty and peace that he knew it held. Almost every Saturday, at the crack of dawn, he would load up the van with fishing gear and take us to a a beach located about 2 hours away (Galveston). We would beg our mom to stop him, but she knew all too well of her powerlessness in the situation. Thus, we did the only thing we could do – grumble. If our lack of enthusiasm dampened his spirit, he sure didn’t show it. He constantly had to bait our hooks (we were a bunch of sissies) as we diligently “fed” the fish. Although we wouldn’t catch much, I do remember catfish being one of the regulars. These are the kinds of memories appa wanted to give his children – the whole family together, enjoying the beauty that is God’s creation. These are the kinds of memories that remind me of appa’s unconditional love for us all the while serving as constant reminders of my self-centered childhood.
So I’m no stranger to catfish. However, I’d never tasted it until now. Crazy, right? Seeing how much the Hungryman loved his fried catfish, I couldn’t help but try to make a healthier version for him. Immediately I thought of my mom’s fish pancakes (a.k.a “jeon”). She usually makes them with orange roughy fillets which are sliced thin, mixed with all-purpose flour, dipped into beaten eggs, and panfried to golden perfection. For this recipe, I swapped orange roughy with catfish and flour with almond flour.
Slice fillets thinly. Season with salt and pepper. Place on top of paper towel to get rid of excess moisture. This also helps the almond flour to adhere better. Refrigerate for at least 30 min. Coat with almond flour, dip in beaten eggs, and panfry in a large pan over med high heat.
Who knew catfish was so meaty! The flavor was pretty mild for the most part, slightly sweet and somewhat “earthy.” The texture was a bit firmer than other white fish I’m used to.
The almond flour imparted a rich, nutty flavor. One thing I’ll have to say though is that the batter easily separated from the fish upon reheating the next day. I don’t know what to do about that…but that’s no biggie for me.
- 1 1/4 pound catfish fillets, sliced thinly and seasoned with salt and pepper
- 1 1/2 cups almond flour
- 3 beaten eggs
- Canola oil for frying
- 3 Tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
- 2 Tablespoon rice wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
- Place sliced catfish on top of paper towel to remove excess moisture. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
- Assembly: Pour eggs into a shallow bowl. Season with 1/2 tsp salt and pepper. Do the same for flour. Dip fish into almond flour then eggs.
- Heat a pan over med high heat. Add oil (I used 1 Tbs for every batch). Add in fish pieces and cook until egg coating starts to get golden and edges crispy.
- Serve with dipping sauce.