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Born On The Bayou

catfish sandwich pickled slaw remoulade sourdough cajun born on the bayou
“Wishin’ I were a fast freight train just a chooglin’ on down to New Orleans”

Inspired by Betty Davis “Born on the Bayou” from The Columbia Years
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I’m not much of a John Fogerty or CCR fan. This is one of a very small handful of CCR songs I like, and I definitely prefer this version. Betty Davis is likely more famous for being married to Miles Davis than for her incredible funk and soul recordings. That’s a shame as she is one of the fiercest singers you’ll ever hear. I discovered her through a Sharon Jones Spotify Radio playlist and if you’re a Jones fan, you’ll dig Davis. What I love about this cover is its gritty Southern roadhouse soul is the perfect soundtrack for this dish.

Over the years, if I needed a name for a Cajun-style item, Born on the Bayou was my default. I have done a brisket taco, a burger, a chicken sandwich and now a catfish sandwich. Honestly, this catfish sandwich is likely the most “Bayou” of any of the dishes I’ve made. Blackened Cajun rubbed catfish, pickled slaw & remoulade on sourdough bread. Not saying it’s authentic, but it’s definitely got a Bayou drawl.

Get some really great bread for this sandwich. Yes, I suppose simple white bread might be more traditional for a catfish sandwich, but a nice sourdough or even light rye (no seeds please) add a nice tang. The pickled slaw does double duty as crunchiness and acid, meaning no need for lemon wedges. The remoulade recipe makes far more than you’ll need for the sandwiches. Either cut the recipe in half or better yet use it on burgers and other sandwiches.

Find the best quality Cajun seasoning possible if you are going the store-bought route or perhaps use the Cajun Rub recipe in my cookbook. I’m also including an easy Old Bay seasoning based run below – Hot Blooded (Chicken & Sea) – that I created for the Dirty Rice Boy. One caveat about Cajun seasoning and indoor cooking, the spices tend to weaponize. I learned this the hard way when I first made this dish. There is a reason Cajun restaurants have great ventilation systems. If you can cook this outdoors on the grill, it’s recommended. If you’re going the indoor route, start the fan early and open a window if possible Your eyes and nasal passages will thank you for it.

BORN ON THE BAYOU
Blackened Cajun catfish, pickled slaw & remoulade on grilled sourdough
Makes 2 sandwiches

2 catfish fillets
2 tablespoons butter for frying catfish
Hot Blooded (Chicken & Sea) seasoning (see recipe below)
Remoulade (see recipe below
Pickled Slaw (see recipe below)
2 slices Sourdough bread
butter for grilling bread

Season both sides of catfish with Cajun seasoning. Place in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.

Turn the kitchen fan on high and open a window if possible. Frying with Cajun rub is going to get a bit smokey and very spicy.

Heat a cast-iron pan on high for 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and melt the butter. Add the catfish – silverskin side up – to the pan. Cook for five minutes then flip fillets. Cook for another 5 minutes. The seasoning should be caramelized (blackened) but not burned.

While fish is frying, heat, and butter the bread and grill it in a separate pan until golden.

To assemble the sandwich, spread one piece of bread with remoulade – add fish fillet – top fish with slaw – spread a bit more remoulade on top bread. 

HOT BLOODED (CHICKEN & SEA) SEASONING
2 tablespoons Old Bay
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons smoked paprika
2 1/4 teaspoons black pepper
1 teaspoon chili powder
3/4 teaspoon cayenne
3/4 teaspoon thyme
3/4 teaspoon onion powder
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon allspice

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. This will make more rub than needed for this recipe so keep the leftovers in an airtight container. In addition to chicken, this rub is an excellent seasoning for fish and shrimp. 

REMOULADE
Makes 1 cup

1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons hot sauce
1/2 tablespoons grainy mustard
1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced fine
1 scallion, whites & greens diced fine
1/2 teaspoon pickle juice
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Place all ingredients in a medium bowl. Whisk to combine thoroughly. Store in the refrigerator.

PICKLED SLAW
Makes 2 cups

1/4 head of green cabbage, cored and very thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
1/4 head of red cabbage, cored and very thinly sliced (about 1/2 cup)
2 scallions, whites & greens cut into thin strips
1/4 medium red pepper, sliced into thin strips (about 1/4 cup)
1 carrot, peeled and shredded (about 1/4 cup)
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon Cajun seasoning

In a large bowl, toss together cabbage, scallion, carrot, and red pepper. In a small saucepan, combine vinegar, salt, and sugar a cook over medium heat, stirring, until salt and sugar are just dissolved. Pour brine over vegetables, add Cajun seasoning and toss to combine. Let rest on counter 15 minutes. Cover and refrigerate for one hour before serving.

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