There are many ugly fish in the ocean. My apology to fish lovers, but several fish hit their heads hard on the kelp forest stems, corrals, or some other rock formation as they hatched. In particular, the catfish took a nasty fall, and it probably reflects in the angry expression on its face. It is so ashamed that it lives in mudholes and muddy waters.
Nevertheless, the meat of this bad boy tastes amazing, assuming you have cleaned it correctly. It is a fish I would love to catch one day, and it is totally underestimated in the culinary world.
If your fishmonger does not properly clean a catfish, you will end up with mud-tasting white fish meat. Not delicious, and it’ll turn you off catfish in the future. Check the fish before cooking it. You have to carefully remove all the orange fat, the skin, the darker fat membrane, and the blood vessel going down the back. It takes time to clean a catfish correctly, but absolutely worth it. The meat tastes amazing if it is cleaned well.
Once you have a nice clean catfish, some chorizo, a few vegetables, and rice, then we can proceed with making Jambalaya. It is really not that hard making a nice Jambalaya.
Take it slowly! Enjoy the food-making process with a nice glass of wine and some cool music. Making food can be therapeutic.
Honestly, I am not a food historian and could not tell you the actual history and origin of this amazing dish. I cook and eat dishes I like, add my own little nuances to it, and serve it to my family. Most times, they like it and ask for a second serving.
We must know a little about the food we eat as it tells excellent stories and provides you some insights into the spices used to make it more authentic.
Jambalaya is a dish that is rich in flavors and history, with its original roots in Louisiana. It was brought over from Spain, during the mid-1700, as the Spanish and the French occupied and influenced the Southern region of the US. Some might even refer to it as Creole, and a melting pot of flavors and vegetables from the Caribbean and Southern US, with Spanish and French twists.
Disclaimer – making Jambalaya will never taste the same as in Louisiana, typically around Mardi Grass or perfected at the hands of a Cajun or Creole wonder woman who has made this dish for decades.
To get started making Jambalaya, you need a few ingredients
- Olive oil
- 3-4 cloves of garlic – half-crushed, the other half sliced
- A large red pepper – cut into thin slices
- 2 sticks of celery – thinly sliced
- 2 lbs of catfish – sliced into nice 1-inch chunks
- 1-1.5 lbs of chorizo – sliced
- 16oz of Chicken stock
- 1 8oz can of tomatoes – I used Smokey Cokey, which was excellent
- 2-3 teaspoons of Cajun spice – use enough to make it taste nice, to suit your taste buds
- 1 cup of basmati or jasmine (uncooked) rice
Making Jambalaya does not take too long. Just the ingredients above, a few simple steps to prepare the dish, a nice big Dutch oven, and then some heating time in the oven. Actually, I placed my Dutch oven in my Traeger (of course).
- Preheat your to 375F … or like me, heat your Traeger to 375 F
- Pour about 2 tablespoons of Olive oil into the Dutch oven
- Slowly heat the oil, and add the Chorizo slices. This will release the nice hot juices from the sausage.
- Add the garlic, red pepper, and celery, and fry the mixture until it softens
- Sprinkle in the Cajun spices. Be gentle if you have smaller kids, as they might not appreciate hot food.
- Add the can of tomato and the stick, and stir
- Add the rice, and stir some more
- Add the catfish pieces, and gently mix them in with the vegetables
- Place the Dutch oven in the Traeger, and let it cook for 17-23 minutes. The dish is ready when the rice is cooked.
If you want to get fancy, you can serve the Jambalaya in a bowl and sprinkle some nice fresh green onion, aka Scallion, over the dish.
Leave a bottle of hot sauce on the table, in case someone wants to spice up their life and insides.
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