Catfish Stew

Catfish stewed in Tomato-based Broth, with Bacon, Potatoes, and Rice

This holiday weekend continues to find me "waxing nostalgic" in the kitchen, so to speak. Today I made my version of probably my favorite of all of my late father's dishes, catfish stew.

He is the only person who has ever made this dish — for me or for anyone, that I know of — which I must admit makes it extra special for me now that he is no longer with us.

And to that honor, I changed very little of (what he would tell me of) his recipe. Chopped slab bacon was browned in the bottom of a hot pot. The white parts of scallions were then thrown in while the bacon browned and rendered fat. To that I tossed in large diced red (c) potatoes, coating them in the oil before adding water, clam juice, and tomato paste.

After adding a bit of mustard, hot sauce, and some other seasonings, I let the liquid reduce over a medium low heat until thickened — letting the potatoes release their starch to help do so.

I finally added cut pieces of fresh catfish fillets into the pot for the last few minutes, until they were just cooked through, then ladled the stew into a bowl, topping it off with steamed white rice.

The dishes I've made this weekend easily connect me with family who are gathering in other cities, celebrating the holidays together, making me feel I'm with them. This catfish stew not only feels like it's bringing them to me, but as well bringing my father back along with them.

Which only reminds me of why I love to cook — and why I cook — in the first place.