Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
21 May

Buttery Catfish in a Creamy Shallot Sauce

Catfish is often covered in a bulletproof coating of cornmeal and spices or drowned in a heavy, highly seasoned sauce. This leads one to believe that the main point of catfish recipes is to draw your taste bud’s attention away from the fish itself. This is a shame, because the flavor of catfish is actually quite delicate and pleasant, and rarely fishy. If you don’t believe us, try our recipe for Buttery Catfish with Creamy Shallot Sauce and just see if it doesn’t change your mind.

In this recipe the fish is seasoned only with salt, topped with a creamy shallot, butter and coconut milk sauce and finished with a garnish of chives. The catfish soaks up the rich sauce and whatever remains you’ll be tempted to lick right off the plate. “Buttery” is a good way to describe both the sauce and the texture of the fish – every bite melts in your mouth. You can use this recipe with any type of seafood but there are many reasons to give catfish a try.

Catfish has a tender texture that is hard to overcook, which makes it more fool-proof than some other types of fish. You can prepare it any way you like, although methods that crisp up the outside a little bit provide a nice contrast to the moist interior. Catfish is often one of the more affordable choices at the seafood counter and as we discussed last week, American farm-raised catfish has very few toxins and a decent amount of fatty-acids. Best of all, a fillet takes only about 8 minutes to cook which means you can have this elegant (yes, we are calling catfish elegant) meal on the table in less than 15 minutes.

2 –3 servings


  • 2 catfish fillets (about 1 pound of fish)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • Finely chopped chives for garnish


Pat the fish dry and lightly salt.

Heat olive oil over medium-high heat and sauté shallot about 30 seconds.

Add butter. When the butter is completely melted add the catfish.

Let fry about 4 minutes on each side. If the fish is really sticking to the pan, it’s probably not ready to flip yet.

Remove the fish from the skillet.

Turn heat down to medium and add lemon juice.

Scrape up the crispy bits from the bottom of the pan then add coconut milk. Let boil about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens. Pour over catfish. Garnish with chives.

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. Sounds awesome! I almost made my bro buy catfish the other day. We enjoyed king crab instead.

    Primal Toad wrote on May 21st, 2011
  2. I wonder how other fish would fare prepared like that. What fish I cook is very often dependent on what my neighbors caught too much of over the weekend.

    Sarah wrote on May 21st, 2011
    • I’ve started fishing myself and there’s so much satisfaction to eating what you catch. Besides saving the money you’d pay at the store, it just doesn’t get any more fresh than some hours old fillets on the grill.

      Nutritionator wrote on May 21st, 2011
      • Agreed. Freshness is everything with fish. I’ve eaten fish that was out of the water for just minutes, and there is nothing like it. Crappie and Bluegills are some of the finest tasting fish too, often passed up by many anglers, and with liberal limits (50 per day, each species) you can really eat.

        Kurt wrote on May 23rd, 2011
  3. Wow, that sounds fantastic! I will definitely try this.

    @Primal Toad Mmmm, I could really go for King Crab right about now. :3

    B. Knight wrote on May 21st, 2011
  4. That looks so good. I’m going to use this recipe with other fish as well. Simple and easy.

    bleu wrote on May 21st, 2011
  5. Looks and sounds delicious – AND simple! Thank you so much…time for lunch!

    Unamused Mouse wrote on May 21st, 2011
  6. On Monday is bought and tried … Thanks, sounds great.

    Paul wrote on May 21st, 2011
  7. I cannot understand the rationale behind buying pricy cuts of meat and covering up the flavor with seasonings that can sometimes double the price.

    I’ve always been a big fan of seared Salmon with a spoonful of Butter. I think I’ll try Catfish and Butter now.

    Any other food minimalist out there?

    Kevin Cowart wrote on May 21st, 2011
  8. Sweet! I don’t know if you intended this to be a followup to your post on the 18th about purchasing fish from a fish market, but a very appropriate decision either way.

    How do you come up with these recipes?

    Jeremy Priestner | Art of Lifting wrote on May 21st, 2011
  9. Delicious!

    Justin wrote on May 21st, 2011
  10. This sounds excellent. I do not have any catfish, but just caught a bunch of Black Rockfish yesterday. I am going to try it out with the rockfish tonight.

    Stormpaw wrote on May 22nd, 2011
  11. I just tried this recipe, but without the butter, for a dairy-free version. I used coconut oil instead of the butter. Mmmmm, super duper yummy. And served with sides of steamed green beens and carrots, it was so delish!

    AmusingLife wrote on May 22nd, 2011
  12. Tasty recipe! A bit on the citrusy side; I suggest only using the juice from half a lemon if you get one of those giant mutants from Whole Foods.

    Patrick McKinnon wrote on May 22nd, 2011
  13. While in general I refuse to eat catfish unless I’m in Mississippi, the catfish has been breaded and deep fried, and is served all-you-can-eat along with AYCE coleslaw and sweet tea….this recipe looks darn good. I think I’ll try it first with some other fish I have in the freezer.

    me jane wrote on May 23rd, 2011
  14. Just tried this with some tilapia. Very VERY good. I paired it with some mashed cauliflower and the whole meal was wonderful.

    Emily wrote on May 23rd, 2011
  15. Oooh that looks fantastic! I’ve been so stuck on salmon and haddock; time to expand the fish repetoire!

    Jules wrote on May 24th, 2011
  16. Thanks for the great recipe-tried it today.

    Steve wrote on May 24th, 2011
  17. Made this last night with snapper, turned out beautiful! I was practically licking the pan and spoon clean

    Isis wrote on May 24th, 2011
  18. Saw this pop up so I picked up some catfish and tried this tonight. It was so good that I did lick the plate. That part didn’t endear me to the ladyfriend, but she liked the dish 😀

    James Schipper wrote on May 25th, 2011
  19. Just made this tonight and it was OMG good! My husband was practically licking the plate. If you haven’t made this yet – get to it!

    Kelly wrote on May 31st, 2011
  20. I made this tonight, but had to substitute halibut due to lack of catfish availability. It still worked and the sauce was really tasty — I just didn’t make enough of it!

    I served it with mash cauliflower and broiled asparagus, which went well.

    I posted more on my blog here:

    Pamela Fox wrote on June 7th, 2011
  21. This is great. The catfish came out so flaky and light. 1 filet is definitely not enough tho.

    Veronika wrote on July 5th, 2011
  22. This was fabulous! My husband raved over it, yea!

    Sandy wrote on January 27th, 2012
  23. Had this a few days ago. It was terrific. I think I’ll halve the lemon juice next time.

    Jackie wrote on February 27th, 2012
  24. I’m really glad someone mentioned rockfish in the comments, because it led me to this recipe last night when I was trying to figure out what to do with the rockfish I bought yesterday. Rockfish is a lot like catfish, so it’s a great match. This recipe worked out extremely well, but I did make some adjustments/additions. When I saw all the butter and shallots in the pan, I was inspired to throw in some sliced mushrooms; so glad I did! I used 2-3 oz of heavy whipping cream instead of coconut milk since I had some open already. And I seasoned with lemon pepper instead of chives. My girlfriend raved about the result — delicious! Plus, with all that good fat, we weren’t hungry at all until the next morning. This is why I always search MDA for recipes!

    Patrick wrote on September 16th, 2012
  25. I also added sliced cremini mushrooms…this was SO good.

    Alisa wrote on March 5th, 2013
  26. I am going to try this but I have almond milk instead of coconut milk. I am not sure if that is a good substitute. Any thoughts?

    Isil wrote on July 10th, 2013
  27. Very simple meal to make, made it with roasted squash, zucchini, and mushrooms. I doubled the recipe, & added extra lemon… Very Fresh. Would I prepare and serve again? YES.

    Joseph Radicklega wrote on July 24th, 2015

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