A base of sliced citrus is the secret to perfectly grilled fish fillets that come off the grill intact and with even more flavor.
Grilling fish, especially delicate fillets such as catfish, can be a challenge for even the most seasoned griller.
Cooking the fish on slices of citrus, however, ensures that it is evenly cooked throughout and is easy to remove from the grill when fully cooked. In this recipe for blackened catfish, the fillets are seasoned with a spicy Cajun blackening rub before being grilled to tender moistness on sliced oranges, which lend a subtle orange flavor to the fish.
A simple charred lemon cream sauce rounds out the dish, reinforcing the infusion of citrus from the oranges while balancing the heat of the blackening rub.
Prep. For the Blackening Rub, combine the smoked paprika, sweet paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, pepper, cayenne, thyme, and oregano in a small bowl and blend well.
For the fish, season both sides of the catfish fillets with kosher salt and the blackening seasoning. Slice the lemon in half. Cut each orange into 4 thick slices.
Fire up. Prepare a grill for indirect cooking by placing a chimney full of pre-heated charcoal briquets on one side of the grill’s charcoal grate in order to create direct and indirect cooking zones. Adjust the grill vents to bring the temperature to about 400°F. Add 2 to 3 chunks of your favorite smoking wood to the charcoal for flavor. On a gas grill, adjust the temperature knobs so that one half of the grill is off and the other half is heated enough to maintain a temperature of approximately 400°F.
Cook. Place the halved lemon, cut sides down, on the hot side of the grill. Grill the lemon halves until the flesh is lightly charred and softened, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the charred lemon halves from the grill and set them aside until ready to use for the cream sauce. If you’re using the optional lemon for a garnish, cut it into 1/4-inch slices then grill the slices until they are lightly charred, 2 to 3 minutes per side.
Lay the orange slices on the hot side of the grill to create two platforms for the fillets. Lay the seasoned catfish fillets on the orange slices and cover the grill. Allow the fish to cook just until it flakes easily with a fork, approximately 15 minutes. Use a large spatula or fish spatula to remove the fish and orange slices simultaneously from the grill.
For the Charred Lemon Cream Sauce, combine the cold vegetable broth and cornstarch in a small bowl and whisk until dissolved. Place a small skillet on the hot side of the grill, add the broth mixture, and bring the mixture to a boil. Squeeze in the juice from the charred lemon halves, catching any seeds. Then stir in the heavy cream, butter, and salt. Allow the sauce to simmer until it has thickened slightly, approximately 5 minutes. If the sauce begins to boil too rapidly, simply move it to the cooler side of the grill.
Serve. Pour the charred lemon cream sauce in the center of two plates. Top the sauce with the blackened catfish (without the orange slices) and add a charred lemon slice, if using. If you like, you can also grill a few asparagus spears and lay them over the sauce before adding the catfish fillets. Chives make a good garnish as well. Serve immediately.
Clint Cantwell - Clint Cantwell is AmazingRibs.com's Senior Vice President of Whatever, charged with creating recipes, writing articles, shooting photos, and a little bit of everything else. He was named one of the "10 Faces of Memphis Barbecue" by Memphis Magazine and was the winner of Travel Channel's "American Grilled: Memphis".
A big part of this site is our unbiased equipment and product reviews. We love playing with toys and we have no problem calling them the way we see them. Some companies pay a finder’s fee if a reader clicks a link on AmazingRibs.com and buys a product. It has zero impact on our reviews, zero impact on the price you pay, and the sites never tell us what you bought, but it has a major impact on our ability to keep this site alive! So before you buy, please click our links. Here’s a link that takes you to a page on Amazon that has some of our favorite tools and toys: https://tinyurl.com/amazingribs
The Pit Barrel Cooker May Be Too Easy
The PBC has a rabid cult following for good reason. It is absolutely positively without a doubt the best bargain on a smoker in the world. Period. This baby will cook circles around the cheap offset sideways barrel smokers because temperature control is so much easier.
Compact Powerful Sear Machine For Your Next Tailgater
Char-Broil’s Grill2Go x200 is a super-portable, fun little sizzler made of heavy, rust-proof cast aluminum. The lid snaps shut. Grab the handle and you’re off to the party! Char-Broil’s TRU-Infrared design produces searing heat while reducing fuel consumption. A 16 ounce LP gas canister is enough to keep you flipping burgers for hours.
The Thermoworks Thermapen MK4 is considered by the pros, and our team, to be the single best instant read thermometer. The MK4 includes features that are common on high-end instruments: automatic backlight and rotating display. Don’t accept cheap substitutes. Click here to read our comprehensive Platinum Medal review
If you have a Weber Kettle, you need the Slow ‘N’ Sear
The amazing Karubecue is the most innovative smoker in the world. The quality of meat from this machine is astonishing. At its crux is a patented firebox that burns logs above the cooking chamber and sucks heat and extremely clean blue smoke into the thermostat controlled oven. It is our favorite smoker, period. Click here for our review of this superb smoker
This is the first propane smoker with a thermostat, making this baby foolproof. Set ThermoTemp’s dial from 175° to 350°F and the thermostat inside will adjust the burner just like an indoor kitchen oven. All you need to do is add wood to the tray above the burner to start smokin’.