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Eat ‘Em to Beat ‘Em: The Wild Blue Catfish

Eat ‘Em to Beat ‘Em: The Wild Blue Catfish
CEBLT from Chef Jeff Black of Black Restaurant Group, Bethesda, MD Text by Virginia Grimes. Photo by Scott Suchman.

The Chesapeake Bay is facing an ecological crisis. The Wild Blue Catfish was first introduced into the Bay in the 1960s for recreational fishing, but today the species has become a predator to the region’s native species and is rapidly overpopulating area waterways. What can you do to help? The answer is surprisingly simple: eat this fish.

Chef Jeff Black of Black Restaurant Group says, “Just taste it. All I want is to simply get people to open their minds up a little bit.” Because of the catfish’s rich diet composed of other native species, it produces an uncommonly delicious, white, and flaky filet. “It’s a quality product, it tastes good, and you’re helping the Bay. It’s kind of a slam-dunk on all fronts.”

Chef Black gets his catfish from Tim Sughrue of Congressional Seafood, who sources his fish directly from the James River. Black serves the catfish on the permanent menu at Pearl Dive Oyster Palace, as well as on menus at BlackSalt Fish Market and Republic, even offering a “Beat the Blues and Save the Bay” special available for $23 every Friday at Pearl Dive. It includes a bottomless serving of cornmeal-crusted fried catfish with your choice of spicy coleslaw or bacon-braised collard greens, along with hushpuppies with cayenne aioli, and a pint of local Denizen’s beer.

Sughrue sums it up perfectly when he says, “We eat-em to beat-em.” It’s as simple as that. Join the fight with this delicious twist on a BLT.

from Chef Jeff Black of Black Restaurant Group, Bethesda, MD

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