Crispy Catfish Fingers with Black-Eyed Pea Pilaf

Inspired by the rich palate of the South, we’ve breaded tender catfish with toothsome cornmeal and paired it with a spicy pilaf for a down-home meal with serious stick-to-your-ribs satisfaction!

Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.


Prep Time
35 min
Cook Time
25 min
60 min


  • 1/2 cup dry black-eyed peas, soaked overnight (TIP: Spread on a baking sheet and pick over for stones or debris, then rinse well.)
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • Olive oil cooking spray
  • 2 jalapeño chile peppers, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup long-grain brown basmati rice
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt, or to taste, divided
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 cup whole-grain fine ground yellow cornmeal (TRY: Bob’s Red Mill Fine Grind Cornmeal)
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp ground celery seed, optional
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • Pinch ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 lb boneless, skinless catfish fillets, cut crosswise into 8 2-oz portions
  • 1 large Roma tomato, chopped
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 2 tsp red wine vinegar


  1. In a medium saucepan, add black-eyed peas, 4 cups water and bay leaf. Bring to boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cook until tender, about 45 minutes. Drain; discard bay leaf.
  2. Meanwhile, mist a large saucepan with cooking spray and heat on medium-high. Add jalapeños and yellow onion and sauté, stirring often, until tender, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for 45 seconds. Stir in rice, ¼ tsp salt, thyme and 2 cups water. Bring to a simmer, then cover and cook until rice is tender, about 40 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, on a plate, spread cornmeal, paprika, celery seed (if using), black pepper, garlic powder, cayenne and remaining ¼ tsp salt. Heat a large nonstick skillet on medium. Dredge catfish in cornmeal mixture, turning to coat both sides. Mist each side of catfish with cooking spray, add to skillet and cook for 4 minutes. (TIP:If necessary, work in batches.) Carefully flip fish and cook until crisp, brown and fish flakes easily when tested with a fork, 3 to 4 minutes more.
  4. Fold black-eyed peas, tomato,green onions, parsley and vinegar into rice. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, for 10 minutes. Divide among serving plates and top with catfish.

Nutrition Information

  • Serving Size 2 catfish fingers and 1/4 rice mixture
  • Calories 339
  • Carbohydrate Content 49 g
  • Cholesterol Content 66 mg
  • Fat Content 5 g
  • Fiber Content 5 g
  • Protein Content 25 g
  • Saturated Fat Content 1 g
  • Sodium Content 351 mg
  • Sugar Content 3 g
  • Monounsaturated Fat Content 1 g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat Content 2 g

Trending on Clean Eating