Blackened Catfish with Cheddar Grits

By Marcus Samuelsson |

This recipe uses catfish,  but in Bermuda they would probably more likely use wahoo or rock fish. I make a very spicy and aromatic blackening mixture using African spices like berbere and ras el hanout. Feel free to use other spice blends or dried spices you love like oregano, coriander, or cumin. I also use dried harissa, which has more depth of flavor than cayenne, though you could use that as well. In my new restaurant, Marcus’ Bermuda at the Hamilton Princess and Beach Club, we serve our blackened fish over cheesy white cheddar grits with pepper jam and braised fennel, which helps to cool down the spices on the fish and soak up any of the pan sauce leftover.

Prep Details

Servings: 4

Total time: 30 minutes


Blackened Catfish

2 Tbsp paprika

2 Tbsp berbere

2 Tbsp dried harissa

1 Tbsp ras el hanout

1 Tbsp tandoori spice

1/2 tsp salt

2 Tbsp dark brown sugar

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

2 tsp olive oil

4 6 oz.catfish fillets

3 lemons, cut into wedges

2 Tbsp butter

Cheddar Grits

1 1/2 cups milk

1 cup white cornmeal

1/4 cup white cheddar cheese, grated

1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated

Salt to taste


For the Blackened Catfish:

1. Combine the paprika, berbere, dried harissa, ras el hanout, tandoori spice, salt, pepper, and dark brown sugar in a small bowl.

2. Sprinkle both sides of fish with the paprika mixture.

3. Heat oil in a large pan over high heat until almost smoking.

4. Add fish; cook 3 minutes on each side.

5. Squeeze lemons over the fish, and add the segments into the pan.

6. Off the heat, add the butter and swirl the pan to melt and make a sauce. Serve with cheddar grits.

For the Cheddar Grits:

1. In a medium pot bring milk to a boil. Once boiling quickly whisk in white cornmeal grits until smooth.

2. When grits are cooked fully and all of the liquid is absorbed, remove from heat, about 10-15 minutes.

3. Fold in cheese, and season to taste with salt.