These are just as sloppy and delicious as you could hope for. Soft, tender potato rolls are my choice for serving, but any hamburger bun will do.
Sloppy Joes are great made with tilapia, but you could try skinless salmon, char, or trout too.
1/2pound catfish fillet (bloodline trimmed; see page 37), cut into ⅓- inch dice Coarse salt
1/4cup vegetable oil
1 cup diced onion
1 cup diced green bell pepper
2 teaspoons paprika
Barbecue Sauce for Fish (recipe follows)
8 hamburger buns
Season the catfish with salt. Let sit on the counter.
Heat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. When the pan’s hot, add the oil, onion, and bell pepper. Sauté, stirring often, until the onion starts to soften, about 3 minutes. Stir in the paprika and sauté, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the catfish and sauté for 1 minute. Stir in the barbecue sauce and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 6 to 7 minutes, until thick.
Meanwhile, heat a griddle or cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Butter the buns and toast them on the griddle.
Fill the buns with the catfish mixture and pile some potato chips on top for crunch. Serve these Joes while they’re hot.
Barbecue Sauce for Fish
Fish deserves its own special barbecue sauce. This one isn’t aggressive in the least, so it’s perfectly suited to the soft nuances of seafood. The flavor of the clam juice wafts through the sauce. Makes about 1 3/4cups
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup minced onion
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/2 cup clam juice
1 cup ketchup
1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Freshly ground white pepper
Heat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add the oil, onion, garlic, thyme, and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring often, until the onion is softened but not browned, about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine the sugar and water in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Cook, swirling the sugar in the skillet, until the sugar dissolves and the caramel is dark amber. Add the vinegar and clam juice and boil until the caramel has dissolved.
Add the caramel and clam juice mixture to the onion, along with the ketchup, Tabasco, Worcestershire, and white pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer the sauce for 20 minutes. Let cool.
You can make this well in advance. It will keep for days in the refrigerator.