Blackened Catfish with Summer Couscous and Heirloom Tomato Vinaigrette

By Marcus Samuelsson |

I created this summer-inspired recipe for Taste of Tennis this past August. I was cooking with Rafael Nadal, and he requested something healthy, so I decided to pair couscous with catfish cooked in olive oil, and it was a huge hit.  Try this dish when you can get fresh heirloom tomatoes from your local farmers market. The couscous is delicious with other proteins as well like chicken or shrimp.

Prep Details

Servings: 4

Total time: 30 Minutes


Blackened Catfish

2 lemons

½ cup all-purpose flour

½ cup cornstarch

3 tablespoons blackening rubsee recipe below

½ cup Spanish Olive Oil

4 (6- to 7-ounce) catfish fillets

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Blackening Rub

4 teaspoons tomato powder

4 teaspoons chipotle powder

4 teaspoons smoked paprika

4 teaspoons Wondra flour

1¼ teaspoons coarse kosher salt

Summer Couscous and Heirloom Tomato Vinaigrette

1 cup extra virgin olive oil, 4 tablespoons separated

2 poblano peppers, diced

2 ears of corn, kernels removed

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 shallots, minced

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 cup couscous

1 cup tomato juice

1 cup water

4 lemons

4 teaspoons parsley, minced

4 teaspoons cilantro, minced

4 heirloom tomatoes, seeds separated and roughly chopped

2 tablespoons black olives, pitted

1 red onion, sliced and soaked in ice water for 10 minutes

4 tablespoons pine nuts

Parsley and cilantro for garnish



Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Make the blackening rub: Whisk all the ingredients together in a small bowl. Store in a jar out of the light.

Cut lemons in half and place in a hot grill pan until slightly blackened. Set aside. Mix the flour, cornstarch, and 2 tablespoons of the blackening rub in a shallow bowl.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Dredge the fish fillets in the seasoned flour and lower them, skin side down, into the oil. Sprinkle the remaining 1 tablespoon blackening rub over the fish. Fry for 3 minutes. Flip the fish and fry for 2 minutes. Transfer the fish, flipping it skin side down, to a rimmed baking sheet and dot with the butter. Bake until the fish is just cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes.

Place over the Summer Couscous and drizzle with the Heirloom Tomato Vinaigrette. Serve with the charred lemons.


In 4 tablespoons of olive oil, sauté the corn, garlic, shallots, and poblano peppers in a cast iron pan until the poblano peppers and corn are slightly charred. Add in the cumin and paprika and bloom the spices for 30 seconds until fragrant. Add the couscous and stir until lightly toasted. Add in the tomato juice and water and simmer for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and steam for five minutes more. Fold in the herbs, juice of two lemons, tomatoes (reserving the seeds for the vinaigrette), olives, and drained red onion.

Make the vinaigrette:

Toast the pine nuts until golden. Add in salt, pepper, the tomato seeds, the rest of the olive oil and juice from the other two lemons. Whisk until well incorporated.

To serve, toss couscous with desired amount of dressing and plate the blackened catfish on top. Garnish with additional fresh herbs.