Paul Prudhomme first served blackened fish at his K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen in New Orleans back in the late ’70s, and since then the dish has made its way onto menus everywhere. Although the combination of spices and butter becomes smoky as hell while the fish grills, “blackened” does not mean burned. Melting some Creole mustard butter over the top adds some extra-buttery spice to the catfish.
Special equipment: You will need a pastry brush for this recipe.
What to buy:Creole (a.k.a. Cajun) mustard is a spicy, hot mustard. You can find it at gourmet grocery stores, some well-stocked grocers, and online.
Game plan: To keep the fish from sticking to the grill, once the grill is hot, use the scraper to remove any residue from previous grilling sessions. Then follow the instructions for oiling the grill right before cooking.
6 tablespoonsunsalted butter (3/4 stick), at room temperature
1 tablespoonCreole mustard
1 teaspooncayenne pepper
1 teaspoonkosher salt, plus more for seasoning the butter
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
4 (4- to 6-ounce) catfish fillets
Vegetable oil, for oiling the grill
1 medium lemon, cut into 8 wedges
Place half of the butter in a medium bowl and mash with a spatula until spreadable. Add the mustard, season with salt, and stir to combine. Place the mustard butter on a sheet of plastic wrap. Roll into a log and twist the ends to seal. Place in the refrigerator to harden, at least 30 minutes. Meanwhile, make the fish.
Place the paprika, cayenne, measured salt, thyme, black pepper, and sugar in a small bowl and stir to evenly combine; set aside.
Melt the remaining half of the butter and place it in a small bowl. Liberally brush one side of each catfish fillet with butter, evenly sprinkle the buttered sides with half of the spice rub, and press gently on the fillets so that the spice rub adheres. Flip the fillets, liberally brush with butter, evenly sprinkle with the remaining half of the spice rub, and press gently so that the spice rub adheres.
Heat a grill pan or outdoor grill to medium high (about 375°F to 425°F). When the grill is ready, rub the grates with a towel dipped in vegetable oil. Place the fillets on the grill and cook undisturbed until grill marks appear and the fish is opaque, about 3 to 4 minutes. Using a flat spatula, flip and cook until completely cooked through, about 3 to 4 minutes more. Transfer to serving plates.
To serve, cut 4 (1/4- to 1/2-inch-thick) rounds of the mustard butter (you will have some left over, but can serve more slices if desired). Place a round on top of each piece of fish and serve immediately with the lemon wedges.