Wasabi Fried Catfish

Fried catfish has been a food staple amongst my family for many years and has earned its right amongst soul food connoisseurs for decades–even within my family.

Traditionally, in a soul food kinda way, catfish is pretty straightforward with salt, pepper, and/or lemon pepper and breaded with cornmeal… I did something like that, but I did it a little different. I marinated the catfish in wasabi for 24 hours, added soy sauce, pepper and breaded it with cornmeal… After that, I fried it in Japanese sesame oil… Then I prayed.

I’ll admit, when the catfish finished cooking, I was hesitant to eat it. Why? Well, my first thought was that the wasabi would be overwhelming. I pinched off a corner when I removed the catfish from the skillet and surprisingly, it tasted great! The wasabi wasn’t overwhelming, and even though the catfish was browner than usual, it wasn’t overcooked, even though I do like it fried kinda crispy.

I’ve got a new thang going. And I like it!

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 catfish fillets
  • 1 cup of wasabi paste or sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of sesame seeds
  • 1 cup of cornmeal
  • 2 cups of sesame oil

DIRECTIONS

  1. In bowl, add wasabi paste, black pepper and soy sauce
  2. Dip catfish fillets into mixture to cover completely
  3. Place catfish fillets in 1 gallon bag or bowl and place in the refridgerator for 24 hours, or 1 hour if in a hurry
  4. Discard mixture
  5. Mix cornmeal and sesame seeds in bowl and dip marinated catfish in bowl to completely cover
  6. Add sesame oil to skillet or wok and turn heat to medium flame
  7. Once oil is heat, approximately 4 minutes, add catfish and cook each side until golden brown, about 5-9 minutes, depending on how crisp you like your fish. Turn over and brown (unless you are deep frying)
  8. Once browned, remove from pan and place on plate with napkin. Let cool and serve.
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Neckbone Ramen Noodles

When I first thought about creating Asian-Soul style dishes, neckbone ramen is the first dish I thought of. Why? Well… because neckbones are a soul food staple that is usually added to collard greens to add flavor (my Mom calls it “sweet meat” ’cause it has a sweet flavor) and ramen noodle is a favorite Asian dish of mine!

First, I had to taste this combination in my mind… Hmmmm, neckbone ramen. I’ll admit, it sounded weird at first, saying it out loud. Frankly, it sounds, well, preposterous. But, I tossed the idea over to my coworkers to see what their opinions were before I created this made-up masterpiece.
“I’ve got an idea… been thinking… thinking about creating Asian-inspired soul food dishes.” I blurted out during our daily lunch pow-wow.

My coworker, Jenny, looked at me with a stilted face and forced a smile, chewing on her bean sprouts and tree bark.. “That sounds interesting.” Her eyes peered towards Amy. So did mine.

I waited on Amy to chime in. She wasn’t always as forgiving. “That sounds, ugh, very interesting.” The smirk on her face lingered for a while. A smirk on my face appeared. She wasn’t as adventurous with food as Jenny.

This is how that social experiment went down:

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3-4 neckbones
  • 1 diced celery stalk
  • ½ cup diced carrots
  • ½ cup diced green onions
  • ½ cup diced leeks
  • ½ cup collard greens
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon pepper
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • 1 package ramen noodles or 1 serving size

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In large pot, fill with water (enough for halfway) and add neckbones, celery and carrots. Then cook for 45 mins, bringing to boil.
  2. Add green onions, leeks, collard greens and cook for an additional 15 minutes.
  3. Turn off heat and set aside.
  4. Cook ramen noodles according to packaging (about 3 minutes. 2 minutes if they are fresh).
  5. Place noodles in a bowl
  6. Remove two neckbones from the pot and slice meat from the bone and place on top of noodles.
  7. With soup spoon, scoop broth with carrots, celery, and leeks and pour onto noodles.
    You’re done!

Pork Stomach (Hog Maws)

I must admit. When I shopped at the China-town grocer and stumbled upon the package of “meat” that said, “pork stomach,” I got nauseous. I stood there looking at the package for about three minutes before I motivated myself to pick it up, wrap my head around the idea, but I was committed to the food experiment, so I grabbed the protein.

Then I thought: ‘Where was I supposed to start with the recipe?’ I had no idea how to cook pork stomach… Is this even edible?–creeped into my mind.

I Googled “pork stomach recipe.” A few options popped up. Interestingly, for most of the pork stomach recipes, in parenthesis “hog maw” popped up. The search results read like this: pork stomach (hog maw). Hog maws? Shit! My daddy used to cook those when I was a kid, southern roots being from Mississippi. Hog maws, aka pork stomach, has been a soul food staple for as long as I can remember.

Granted, not all soul food connoisseurs eat hog maws. And most soul food lovers don’t even know what hog maws are. For the most part, hog maws are usually mixed with chitterlings or “chitlin’s” for short. Chitlin’s are pig intestines; it tastes good, but smells very bad. People have strong opinions about chitterlings… They love them or hate them. No in-between. I, on the other hand, happen to love them.

Getting back to hog maws: as with any inexpensive meat, they have to boiled for at least one hour to soften them up. These hog maws were cooked for about an hour and a half because I do like to retain some chewiness. You can cook yours for at least two hours if you wish. I am always easy on salt and pepper because I’d rather under season it, where you can add more later, then over season it and the dish is ruined. Also, if you are cooking for others, they can season it to their taste, without losing the essence of the dish. Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1-2 pounds of cleaned pork stomach (hog maw)
  • 1 quart of water (enough to fill large pot half way)
  • 1 whole diced carrot
  • 1 diced celery stalk
  • 2 cups diced green onions
  • 1 cup chives
  • ½ cup of soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon ginger
  • 1 teaspoon of peanut sauce (or peanut butter)
  • 1 tablespoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of curry (optional)
  • 1 beaten egg (optional)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Add water to large pot and bring to boil
  2. Add salt, pepper, soy sauce, ginger, peanut sauce and curry
  3. Dice pork stomach into 1 inch squares, add to pot
  4. Add celery and carrots
  5. Stir and boil for 45 mins, stirring every 15 mins and checking water level
  6. Add chives and green onions, boil for another 30 mins
  7. Stir in beaten egg (optional)
  8. Dip fork and taste one pork stomach slice to check for chewiness.
  9. If too chewy, cook for an additional 30 mins. If just right, remove from heat and let cool.
  10. Serve in bowl or plate.

Pepper Steak Ramen Noodles

Ramen noodles are the new age food staple that is soon to replace rice, the trusty old standby. You can dress it up with pepper steak, like I did, or dress it down and go vanilla with the contents of the silver packet that comes with the noodles. Either way, you are in for a quick, less-than-20-minute meal that is sure to please your tastebuds and impress others around you with your culinary prowess.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 pound pepper steak
  • 1 pack of Ramen noodles
  • 2 cups of beef broth
  • 1 cup snow peas
  • 1 cup of green onions
  • ½ cup red peppers
  • ½ cup bean sprouts
  • 1 cup teriyaki sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Thai peanut sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of curry
  • 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 2 cups of water

DIRECTIONS

  1. Chop pepper steak into strips or cubes
  2. Mix pepper steak and teriyaki sauce in a bowl and let marinade for one hour in the fridge (15 mins if in a rush)
  3. Once pepper steak is marinated, toss into a large wok or frying pan and brown
  4. Add beef broth, Thai peanut sauce, curry, soy sauce and black pepper. Bring to boil.
  5. Dice green onions and red pepper into cubes, toss in boiling beef broth.
  6. Add snow peas and bean sprouts, boil for 5 mins and turn off heat.
  7. In small pan, add 2 cups of water and bring to boil, toss in ramen noodles. Cook for 3 minutes.
  8. Place ramen noodles in a bowl and scoop pepper steak mixture on top.

Fried Chicken Breast Stuff with Collard Greens

I heard Steve Harvey, comedian and radio show personality, talk about fried chicken stuffed with collard greens on the radio. I thought, damn, that sounds FANTASTIC! I love collard greens and I love fried chicken, so this culinary experiment will have its first subject–me!
A week ago, I bought a deep fryer from Walmart and have been frying everything that wasn’t nailed down! That includes mushrooms, chicken gizzards, fried green tomatoes and, well, now fried chicken breast.
I cut a slit into the skinless breast to stuff in already cooked collard greens. My concern was too much oil seeping into the slit and the chicken being quite greasy. It wasn’t greasy. Actually, it cooked the fried chicken breast more thoroughly inside. However, next time, I do want to stuff the fried chicken more with collard greens and have to figure out a way to stitch the opening back together… or fry them first and stuff the chicken breast after fried… I’m not sure if I like that, though. This culinary experiment will be interesting nonetheless.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2-3 Boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups flour/cornmeal mixture
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 1 cup collard greens
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil (or sunflower/vegetable oil)
  • More oil for frying, deep enough to cover skillet/deep fryer halfway

DIRECTIONS

  1. Warm up cooking oil in deep fryer or skillet
  2. In separate skillet or wok, add peanut oil and collard greens
  3. Stir collard greens rapidly for approx two mins, evenly coating with oil, then set aside
  4. Mix egg, salt and pepper into medium bowl
  5. Cut slit with knife into each chicken breast
  6. Stuff breast with collard greens
  7. Dip chicken breast into egg mixture
  8. Then dip breast into flour cornmeal mixture in separate bowl
  9. Repeat for all chicken breast
  10. When oil is heated, add chicken breast and fry for 10 mins
  11. Remove from oil and drain

Fried Frog Legs Recipe

I’m in love! Partly because I hadn’t eaten fried frog legs since I was seven years old when my daddy brought a live frog home and let my brother and I play with it before he dropped it in a pan, but also, I fried these frog legs in a new deep fryer that I obtained from Walmart for only $35!
I obtained the frog legs from a grocery store in Chinatown. My goal was only to buy a few sauces to coat and marinate my dishes, but I ended up spending $100 in the store!

When I told most people that I was cooking frog legs, they wanted nothing to do with it. Eeek! Yuck! and OMG! Were some of the reactions I got. Fair enough. With that said, the frog legs were very tasty. I describe the flavor as “it tastes like chicken mostly, but on the back end, after chewing it for a minute, you can taste a little bit of a fishy taste.”

INGREDIENTS

  • Frog legs
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup corn meal
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon of pepper
  • ½ cup of ginger
  • Peanut oil/corn oil (enough for frying)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat deep fryer according to instructions with enough cooking oil to immerse the frog legs
  2. In medium bowl, mix egg, salt, pepper and ginger.
  3. Rinse frog legs and dip into the egg mixture until coated
  4. Mix flour and cornmeal in a separate medium bowl
  5. Dip frog legs into flour/cornmeal mixture and place into oil when hot
  6. Deep fry for 5-8 minutes, depending on how crispy you like them
  7. Remove frog legs from oil and place onto plate or bowl with napkin lining the bottom

Fried Green Tomatos

Nah, this isn’t that movie starring Kathy Bates, Jessica Tandy, Mary-Louise Parker and Cicely Tyson. These are real tomatoes, green, that is.

I had been bugging my coworkers for a few weeks about eating fried green tomatoes. It’s something that I don’t normally eat, but occasionally, my palate want’s something different than the regular go-to food choices.

My daddy is from Mississippi, so it’s probably not a coincidence that I would crave this type of food. However, I don’t like complicated recipes. I had my own recipe in mind, but searched for new, creative ways to improve on the dish and make it my own. Some recipes called for milk. I left that ingredient out, although I imagined it is to knock some of the tartness out of it. I do like mine kinda tart. You can dip them in milk if you like.

The other thing was, “Where the heck and I going to find green tomatoes?!” It’s not like the local grocery store has its cup runneth over with them… So my work buddy, Jose, came to the rescue! He vowed that the Mexican supermarket down the block from his house always kept them in, so he brought about six or seven green tomatoes to my desk a few days later. Do you think he deserves a Christmas present?
Dipping tomatoes in egg, cornmeal and flour is messy business. I do believe next time I will use thongs. Got any ideas for dipping sauce?

INGREDIENTS

  • 4-6 medium size green tomatoes
  • ½ cup of cornmeal
  • ½ cup of all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup of breadcrumbs
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of pepper
  • 1/2 cup of milk (optional)
  • 1 quart of vegetable oil for frying

DIRECTIONS

  1. Slice green tomatoes into medium size chunks
  2. Beat eggs & milk in medium bowl
  3. Mix breadcrumbs, cornmeal, salt and pepper into bowl
  4. Place flour in a separate bowl
  5. Dip tomatoes in flour, then dip into eggs, then dip into breadcrumb/cornmeal mixture
  6. Set tomatoes on a plate then repeat previous step for all tomato slices
  7. Place vegetable oil in frying pan over medium heat until hot
  8. Place tomatoes into the oil in single layers
  9. Fry for at least 5 mins on each side or until golden brown
  10. Remove from oil and place on napkin for oil drainage
    Serve with your favorite dipping sauce!