In France, there is a dish called Court Boullion. A quickly cooked broth used to poach fish, eggs, vegetables, and delicate meats. But what was once a French dish was changed once the Acadian French were kicked out of Canada and sent to the French Louisiana colonies. The culture which was once Acadian was changed by all the other cultural influences and became what we know now as Cajun. So while the name is similar to the old dish, Catfish Couvillion or Court-bouillon (pronounced COO-bee-YON) is very different. It is a well-seasoned tomato-based fish stew that is thickened with flour. While it is catfish this time, you can use any firmer white-fleshed fish instead. Red snapper and redfish are both very popular choices for this dish as well.
- 5 pounds of catfish (or other firm whitefish)
- 1 pound peeled and cleaned shrimp
- 2 onions diced
- 7 stalks celery
- 5 green bell peppers
- 5 garlic cloves( or more) minced
- 2 can Rotel tomatoes
- 2 can tomato sauce
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
- 1 tablespoon Tony Chachere Creole Seasoning
- 4 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoon oil
- 2 tablespoon butter
- 4 cups seafood stock
First off we start off with our fresh catfish, this is about a 5lb fish that I caught the day before at the lake. This dish does better with larger catfish because the fillets are thicker the meat holds up better in the gravy when you serve it out. The first step is simple, fillet out the catfish or whichever fish you’re using. And then take the skin off the fillets.
H&G (Headed & Gutted) catfish, a good way to keep catfish on ice once you’re done at the lake. Store body cavity down on ice to drain the blood further.
Then get your celery, onions, and bell peppers. Wash it all then dice all three of them evenly. This is your Cajun cooking Holy Trinity and the garlic we will add is the Pope.
Here’s a tip for easily chopping up your bell peppers, take the top and bottom off the pepper. Then run the knife along the inside to sort of fillet the pepper.
The final “fillet” of bell pepper is easy to dice up and will lay flat when you go to chop it up.
You want to have all your onions, celery, and green bell peppers diced up to about the same size. But you also don’t want to go too small with your pieces or you’ll lose them in the final product.
Now in a big pot, melt the butter and add the oil, then once hot add in the trinity, salt, and pepper. Then, sauté the veg and about halfway through add in the minced garlic. Then cook the mix down till soft and the onions are translucent.
Once the veg is soft add a little more oil and all the flour into the pot. Mix it all together and then start sautéing it till the flour browns a little, make sure to not burn it though. You can alternatively just make a roux separately using equal parts oil and flour and add it into the pot instead.
Once the flour has been browned, add in the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and the stock. Season to taste and then let it gently simmer for about 15-20 minutes. The flour that was browned will thicken up the Couvillion into what Cajuns call a red gravy.
You simmer it down for that long to help infuse all the flavors together and to take out some of the acidity from the tomatoes. You want to season the gravy a little heavier to account for moisture from the fish and shrimp that will be added. Once you add in the fish you can’t easily stir and mix the Couvillion without breaking up all the pieces of fish. So make sure the taste is where you want it. Then add in your fish first, and let that poach in the red gravy.
Once the fish is mostly cooked through add the shrimp to the pot. Once the shrimp finish poaching the dish is ready to serve.
Serve the Catfish Couvillion ladled on top of some hot white rice, Depending on the size of your fish pieces, aim for one to two pieces along with a few shrimp per person. Make sure to add plenty of red gravy for them to mix into the rice. Serve with lemon and hot sauce on the table so everyone can adjust that last bit to their palettes.