In keeping with Junebaby’s mantra of “food with roots,” chef-owner Edouardo Jordan’s take on catfish and grits is a masterclass in a Southern staple. Here’s how an unforgettable dish comes together at Eater Seattle’s award winner for Restaurant of the Year 2017:
The process starts with a 40-minute simmer of Geechie Boy Mill blue corn grits from South Carolina, a coarsely ground heirloom variety that lends a distinct lavender appearance and a sweeter flavor than the more commonly used white or yellow corn grits. Jordan adds parmesan cheese for a hit of umami but otherwise keeps the grits simple, letting their inherent earthiness shine.
As the grits cook on the stove, Jordan prepares the catfish. He gets his from a farm in Utah — since catfish are bottom-feeders, Jordan recommends only buying and eating farm-raised to ensure the cleanest flavor. He coats several cuts in cornmeal, then it’s over to the deep-fryer, where the pieces are fried for approximately five to eight minutes until they’re golden-brown and flaky, then salted lightly.
By now, the grits are done and it’s time to plate. The base of the dish is a house-made red sauce that Jordan likens to a shrimp bisque. Spoonfuls of blue corn grits are then added along with fried catfish. The attractive dish is then topped off with, in this case, kernels of corn, pickled onion, and sprigs of fennel to offset the creamy richness of the grits and the crispy shell of the tender fish.
As Eater’s roving food critic, Bill Addison, put it recently, “Junebaby lulls diners with plenty of familiar, exquisitely rendered Southern pleasures,” and the catfish over grits is no exception. The dish is available for dinner or served with either fried catfish or shrimp for lunch every weekend.
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