Food Fight Friday: Bluegill Curry vs Blackened Catfish

I know it's hunting season--or close to it--but as Field & Stream's Senior Editor Joe Cermele points out in the newest issue of the magazine, fall is the perfect time to go fishing. There are fewer people on the water, but there are still plenty of big, hungry fish. If those aren't reasons enough, maybe a fish-centric Food Fight Friday will spur you to get on the water this weekend.

Hoosierdude's Bluegill Curry

This has become my go-to recipe. I've tried it with several species of fish, and bluegill is by far the best. Its firm, sweet flesh is perfect for soups. Just make sure the fillets are completely scale- and bone-free. Saute a minced shallot in olive oil until translucent. Add two cloves of minced garlic and 2 tbsp. of red curry paste (Mae Ploy brand is tops). Saute for a couple more minutes. Mix in a can of coconut milk, ½ cup chicken stock, 1 tbsp. of freshly grated ginger, 2 tbsp. of fish sauce, 2 tbsp. of brown sugar, and one stalk of lemongrass. To prepare the lemongrass, mince the bottom third of the stalk and bruise the remainder; all of it goes into the pot. Simmer covered for about 20 minutes, then add a pound or so of bluegill fillets and cover for about 3 minutes or until the fish is just cooked through. Add a cup of chunked fresh pineapple and half of a sweet pepper, julienned. Finish with the juice from half a lime. I serve it with jasmine rice and garnish with additional lime, chopped peanuts, and fresh basil.

David's Blackened Catfish

I really prefer catfish fried, but even I can admit it's hard to beat a catfish--or better yet, redfish--blackened in a cast-iron skillet. There are a lot of blackened seasonings on the market, but my go-to is King Kooker brand. Old Bay also makes a good one. The real key however, is to make sure you pan is searing-hot, almost dangerously so. Oh, and be sure to open the windows because it's going to get a bit smoky in the kitchen, but the flavor is worth it. This particular fillet was served with roasted cauliflower and rice with a dash or two of Louisiana Chef Sauce.

Think you've got a better fish or wild-game dish? If so, snap a photo and submit it with a short description to fswildchef@gmail.com.