As our old pal Sylvester the Cat would so often say, “Sufferin’ succotash!” It’s one of those expressions I heard on Saturday mornings growing up thanks to cartoons, and never questioned its meaning. It was understood as the utterance of frustration, a polite “Jesus Christ” that conveyed a level of discontent without the need to take the Lord’s name in vain. While I can remember hearing the expression from cartoon characters, I don’t recall ever hearing it from the lips of actual people.
So just what is succotash and is it suffering? Succotash is a relish of sorts primarily consists of a blend of sweet corn, Lima Beans and other garden delights. Since home gardens were more common, and because the ingredients for succotash were relatively inexpensive, this dish was popular throughout the United Stated during the Great Depression. As a depression era dish, it might explain Sylvester’s claim of suffering. Depending upon the part of the country, succotash could be found baked in a pie, topped over fresh-caught fish or even gracing the Thanksgiving tables in New England.
While catfish with succotash may be from humble ingredients, it is a taste welcome to our Lenten supper. Served with warm biscuits and tender greens, it makes for a deliciously nostalgic meal.
Pan-Seared Catfish with Succotash
1 cup Buttermilk
2 teaspoons Louisiana Hot Sauce
4 (5 oz) Farm-Raised Catfish Fillets
1 stick Butter, divided
3 cups frozen Corn, thawed
1 cup frozen baby Lima Beans, thawed
1/2 Red Bell Pepper, chopped
1/4 cup Onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon Salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon Black Pepper, divided
1/2 cup Cornmeal
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
In a 9-inch by 13-inch baking dish, combine the buttermilk and hot sauce. Place catfish into the buttermilk mixture, turning to coat on all sides. Set aside.
Meanwhile, stem and seed bell pepper, chop into small pieces; set aside. Peel and chop onion; set aside.
Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over high heat. Add corn, Lima Beans, red pepper, onion, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper. Sauté 8 to 10 minutes, or until vegetables begin to caramelize, stirring occasionally.
In a shallow dish, combine cornmeal, remaining salt, and remaining black pepper. Remove catfish from marinade and coat with cornmeal mixture.
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt remaining butter with oil. Sauté catfish 3 to 4 minutes per side, or until golden and crisp.
Serve topped with succotash.
How are you all doing? For those observing the Lenten Season, this is the 3rd Friday of Lent. Hope you’re enjoying the fresh seafood at the markets these day. Or is there a big, juicy steak dinner that’s calling your name? Believe me, I get it – hot dogs are beginning to sound good. And if you aren’t into the whole Lenten thing, hey – fish is good for us!