I absolutely love deep fried catfish but I know it is not the healthiest option for me. I know nothing can actually replicate that dish without frying, but I have come up with a baked version that is close. I have tried this many different ways and have finally come up with a version that I think is fantastic. Instead of using white breadcrumbs I use a combination of both whole wheat breadcrumbs and ground cashews. I cook them up quickly and perfectly in my toaster oven.
I found that a bread crumb breading by itself is too dry unless it is fried. Cashews have a very buttery texture and taste, yet the flavor is mild enough to not compete with the flavor of the catfish. I also find that in the absence of that unique deep-fried taste, spices are a very welcome addition. Obviously, the spices don’t make the fish taste fried, but it adds a beautiful flavor that leaves you satisfied so that you forget all about the fried version.
4 catfish filets, about 4 ounces each
1 large chicken egg
1 tablespoon of whole milk
3/4 cup of fresh whole wheat bread crumbs (you can buy these or use your food processor to make them from fresh bread)
1/4 cup of finely ground cashews (use your food processor or a heavy rolling-pin to grind the cashews)
1/4 teaspoon of ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon of ground cumin
1 teaspoon of dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon of dried garlic granules
1/4 teaspoon of dried onion granules
1/4 teaspoon of paprika
1/4 teaspoon of sea salt
1/4 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
Heat your toaster oven to 450 degrees F.
Put the egg and milk into a shallow bowl or dish. Beat well and set aside.
Put the breadcrumbs, ground cashews, allspice, cumin, thyme, garlic, onion, paprika, salt and pepper in another shallow bowl or dish. Mix together well.
Pat dry the catfish filets, then dunk them in the beaten egg mixture. Move them to the bread crumb and cashew mixture and flip them around to coat both sides. Place the breaded catfish onto a parchment lined baking sheet that will fit into your toaster oven. Bake in your toaster oven until the fish is opaque throughout and the breading is golden brown; this should take about 10 minutes. Serve with hot sauce.
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