When we passed through Louisiana last year, we got a taste of the New Orleans night life. But even though we spent time with a crawfish farmer in Creole country, we never got to experience the true flavor of the deep south.
We had to wait until we got all the way back up to Colorado for some authentic crawfish étouffée and fried catfish. Huh?
Yup. Our friends Lilla and Neal hail from Colorado Springs but have deep roots in Lousiana. And when we discovered they just purchased their own little piece of paradise near Westcliffe, CO, we decided to meet these fun folks and find out what developing some raw land is really like. Being treated to some serious southern fare for dinner was an added bonus.
Lilla and Neal have connections back home who send them provisions unavailable in the Rockies, like blue crab claws, fresh gulf shrimp, and crawfish. And while I refuse to call crawfish “seafood” – They live in the mud! – I will admit they are quite tasty. Especially how Neal prepared them in a rich étouffée which must have contained about six sticks of butter.
Apparently, the secret to good étouffée is a good roux. And Neal’s secret is that he found a good roux in a jar. Oops! Sorry, secret no more. But seriously, preparing roux is difficult, and it’s not the type of intensive food preparation one undertakes in a pop-up tent trailer. And neither is fried catfish, but they did. And I’m glad they did.
It is now obvious that the trick to good fried catfish is coating the fillets with mustard before dredging them in seasoned flour. Then frying them fast, in lots of hot oil, which Neal did outside on a camping grill.
We tried frying fish in our trailer once and the smell lingered for about a week. Kinda like how this rich meal lingered with us long after Lilla and Neal left us to hang out on their property while we continued our search for a little paradise of our own. We didn’t need to eat again for days. But we did, because they left us with the leftovers.