Catfish Courtbouillon
SERVES: 8-10

The courtbouillon of South Louisiana differs greatly from that of its forefather, the courtbouillon of the Mediterranean region of France. Here, we begin with the dark brown roux of the Cajuns, whereas in the South of France, the soup begins with olive oil and layers of vegetables and shellfish. I do believe the Cajun version is far superior.


  • 1 (3-5 pound) catfish
  • 1 cup oil
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 cups chopped onions
  • 2 cups chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped yellow bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 2 tbsps chopped garlic
  • 1/2 cup chopped fish pieces
  • 1 cup diced tomatoes
  • 1 can Rotel tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
  • 3 quarts fish stock
  • juice of one lemon
  • 3 bay leaves
  • pinch of thyme
  • pinch of dill
  • 1 cup chopped green onions
  • salt and pepper to taste

Fillet the catfish and cut into two inch square cubes. Place the bones and head in a pot with one gallon of water, one cubed onion, one stalk of celery, 2 bay leaves and a tablespoon of peppercorns. Bring to a rolling boil and cook 30 minutes, skimming the impurities that rise to the surface. Strain and reserve 3 quarts for the courtbouillon. In a large dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add flour and using a wire whip stir constantly until dark brown roux is achieved. Add onions, celery, bell peppers, garlic and sauté until vegetables are wilted, approximately 3-5 minutes. Add fish, tomatoes, tomato sauce and continue to sauté until fish is cooked into the roux mixture. Add fish stock, one ladle at a time, until all is incorporated. Add lemon juice, bay leaves, thyme and dill. Bring to a rolling boil, then reduce to simmer. Allow to cook approximately 30 minutes. Add green onions and season to taste using salt and pepper. Drop cubed catfish fillets into the sauce, allow to cook 3 minutes then remove from heat. Adjust seasonings if necessary. Serve over steamed white rice.

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