CATFISH CORN CHOWDER
6 to 8 servings
- 4 to 5 slices bacon
- 2 medium to large onions, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 3 medium potatoes, peeled and diced, and immediately placed in ice cold water (with ice cubes) to prevent discoloration
- 2 medium to large carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 2 medium to large ribs celery, coarsely chopped
- 1 to 1½ pounds catfish fillets or other firm whitefish fillets, cut into small pieces
- ½ fish bouillon cube, mashed (optional)
- 1 (14.5-ounce) can (net wt.) diced tomatoes (include liquid)
- 4 cups water
- 1 fresh or dried bay leaf, crumbled
- 1 tablespoon finely snipped fresh thyme (stems removed) or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon seafood seasoning or to taste
- ½ to 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce or to taste
- ¼ to ½ teaspoon celery salt
- 3 to 4 drops hot pepper sauce or several grains cayenne pepper or to taste
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 2 cups whole-kernel corn (fresh cut-from-the-cob or drained canned or drained thawed frozen corn)
- Oyster crackers as an accompaniment (optional)
Pan-fry bacon in a medium heavy skillet over moderate heat until crisp. Drain and crumble bacon; set aside. Add onion to pan and sauté over moderate heat until tender but not browned. Drain onions, reserving drippings.
Prepare catfish and other vegetables for cooking.
In a large heavy saucepan, combine drained potatoes, carrots, celery, fish bouillon cube, if used, tomatoes, water, herbs, and seasonings. Cook, partially covered, over moderate heat for about 10 to 15 minutes or until vegetables are crisp tender. Do not overcook vegetables.
Add crumbled bacon, bacon/onion drippings, onions, catfish pieces, and corn. Adjust seasonings to taste. Reduce heat and simmer until fish pieces are just cooked and opaque in color. Do not overcook fish pieces, as they will become tough if overcooked. Vegetables should not be mushy. Serve with oyster crackers, if desired.