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Pretzle-Crusted Catfish

Written By Culinary Pen on Saturday, September 24, 2011 | 5:29:00 PM

I love this dish. I remember the first time I made it was for my Dad when I had just gotten my first cast iron pan. I remember my Dad loved the crisp pretzel crust holding in the moist fish, all brought together with a little horseradish mustard for dipping. It's an easy way to get a crunchy crust that rivals a deep-fried crust, but without the effort or extra equipment. Since that day, I've made it several times, each with the same level of success. That winning-streak ended tonight.Since catfish have thickish, mound-like fillets, they hold up well to the knobby, uneven breading of smashed up pretzel pieces. Plus catfish is cheap, although it recently spiked from $5.99/lb to $8.99/lb. Still, it's relatively cheap, considering other fish prices. Just roll the fillets in seasoned flour (I use salt and mustard powder), dip in an egg wash, and then roll in crushed pretzels, patting them in to help them adhere. You should have a gently sloping hill of tumbling pretzel crumbs.My mistake was simple. It's true that a breading will best adhere to a fillet if you give it some time to rest before popping it in the pan. The flour soaks up the egg and helps to bind the coating to the meat. So I made these fillets and gave them an hour in the fridge while I cleaned up and got some sides together. In that time the pretzels softened and smushed with the damp egg wash, losing any remaining shred of crispy dignity. Carla put it best, saying "these taste like they were made with old, stale pretzels someone forgot in the back of the cabinet." Which was fair and true.

But in good news, we had two delicious sides of pan-fried new potatoes and a fennel and beet coleslaw with walnuts. But truth be told, I'm fighting the urge to rush out and redo this dish, just to prove that I can.
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