My grandfather is from New Orleans, and one of his favourite dishes is fried fish and grits. It is only fitting that I re-create the delectable taste of his favourite dish in a healthier version, because he is my inspiration for being a chef. Early on in my attempts to change my eating habits, I figured out the best way to achieve the “fried fish” effect without the deep-frying and calories. By incorporating healthy nuts with the perfect spice blend and other flavour enhancements, I cracked the code with this recipe.

Get ready for some true southern hospitality. This recipe works with just about any type of fish. If catfish is not your cup of tea, then swap it out for halibut, cod, red snapper, swordfish or salmon.

New Orleans Pecan-Crusted Catfish

Serves: 6

Serving size: 1 fillet

Calories per serving: 292

¾ cup finely chopped pecans
1/3 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
4 tablespoons Cajun Spice Blend* (see below)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil, divided
6 (5-ounce) catfish fillets, deboned
Lemon wedges, for garnish


1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF (200ºC). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. In a large bowl, combine the pecans, cheese, 3 tablespoons Cajun Spice Blend, parsley, lemon zest and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil.

3. Place catfish fillets on the lined baking sheet. Brush the fillets with the remaining teaspoon of olive oil and rub in 1 tablespoon Cajun Spice Blend. Massage the oil and spice on both sides of the fish.

4. Spread the pecan crust liberally over the top of each piece of fish.

5. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the crust is dark golden and the fish is flaky and moist. Serve with lemon wedges.

*For the Spice Blend

Yield: 1/4 cup

2 teaspoons freshly ground white pepper
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons paprika
1 tablespoon dried thyme
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon mustard powder

Mix together all the ingredients in an airtight container and store in a cool, dry place away from heat and light.

About Judson Todd Allen

Chicago native Chef Judson Todd Allen’s mission is to design powerhouse flavours sourcing seasonal, local and sustainable ingredients that change the way people think and feel about healthier foods. The use of flavourful spices is one of his weight loss tactics, as featured in his book The Spice Diet.

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