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Catfish Milanese

By: Hannah Lee Leidy
Common House Catfish Milanese
Photo by Ali Harper

Make this variation of the traditional catfish milanese. This recipe by Matt Greene from Common House likes to pound the fish, fry, and serve it over a bean and cucumber salad. Light, complex, and sophistication all in one Southern seafood plate.

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Serves 4

    For the olive aïoli:
  • 1 egg yolk
  • ½ teaspoon garlic paste (crushed in mortar and pestle or using the flat edge of a chef’s knife)
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup Castelvetrano olives, pureed or chopped into a paste
  • 1 tablespoon olive brine
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • For the cucumber salad:
  • 1 large english cucumber, diced
  • 1 (14 ½-ounce) can cannellini beans, strained and rinsed
  • ¼ cup pickled onions, diced
  • 2 Calabrian chiles, diced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
  • 1 teaspoon chopped dill
  • Juice of ¼ lemon
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • For the catfish:
  • 1 (18- to 24-ounce) catfish filet
  • 2 cups canola oil
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups lightly ground breadcrumbs
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 4 lemon wedges

For the olive aïoli:

  1. Add egg yolk and garlic paste to a mixing bowl. Slowly whisk in ½ cup canola oil to start the emulsion. (It should start to thicken and become viscous.) Add lemon juice, salt, olives, and brine. Whisk in the rest of the canola oil. If at any point the aïoli becomes too thick, add cold water 1 tablespoon at a time to thin. Whisk in olive oil and add more salt and pepper to taste. (Aïoli can be made at any point before serving and will keep in the refrigerator for several weeks.)

For the cucumber salad:

  1. At least 15 (or up to 90) minutes before serving, combine all cucumber salad ingredients in a large bowl. Adjust the salt, pepper, lemon juice, and olive oil to taste; if you’re sensitive to heat, add the Calabrian chiles a little at a time. Let sit at room temperature until ready to serve.

For the catfish milanese:

  1. Portion catfish filet into 1½- to 2-ounce portions (about 12 equal pieces). Place a sheet of plastic wrap or a gallon-sized plastic bag on the counter and wrap filets in plastic. Pound filets with a mallet until flattened to ⅓- to ¼-inch in height.
  2. Pour canola oil into a medium to large cast-iron pan and slowly heat to about 350 degrees.
  3. Place flour, eggs, and breadcrumbs into 3 separate bowls. Season flour and breadcrumbs lightly with salt and pepper. Create an egg wash by adding water to eggs and whisking to combine. Season each piece of catfish with salt and pepper. Coat each piece of catfish with seasoned flour. Place floured catfish in the egg wash, then dredge in breadcrumbs until fully coated. Set aside.
  4. Place filets gently into hot oil. Fry fish until both sides of each piece are golden brown. Using tongs, pull filets from pan and place on a paper towel-lined plate or rack to drain excess oil.

To serve: On each plate, add a dollop of olive aïoli and smooth with a spoon. Place 3 catfish filets over aïoli and spoon salad on the side. Serve with lemon wedges.




  • Recipe from Matt Greene, Common House, Chattanooga, Tennessee

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