Freshwater “Scallops”? with Jeff Benda

Freshwater “Scallops”? with Jeff Benda

Jeff Benda


I live just a few minutes away from the Red River of the North that flows over 500 miles from Wahpeton, North Dakota north to Lake Winnipeg, Manitoba in Canada. This stream is full of channel catfish, and 20 pound trophy fish are common. But I prefer them a bit smaller for cooking. My 6-year-old daughter and I love to catch and eat the whiskered warriors from shore using a medium size hook and a nightcrawler or leech.

This recipe can be used with other fish, but your fillets need to be a minimum of 3/4-inch thick but 1-inch is preferred. 

Serves 2 – 4 people

Special Equipment: Sharp fillet knife


2 lb 1-inch thick catfish fillets
1 lb asparagus
1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper
5 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
1 Tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons jalapeno, seeded & finely diced
2 teaspoons yellow onion, finely diced


First of all, as soon as you catch your fish, you should cut them under the gills and bleed them out. This will help remove blood from your fillets and give you a cleaner product to work with. Next, you should cool the fish off by putting them in a cooler full of ice.

When you are ready to cook them, remove skin from catfish fillets. Using a sharp knife, cut “scallop” shape round pieces out of the fillet that are 2-inch wide and 1-inch thick. Trim any fat off of fillets. Soak in brine of 2 cups of cold water and 1 Tablespoon salt for 15 minutes. In a small bowl, whisk together 3 Tablespoons olive oil with rice wine vinegar, honey, diced jalapeno and onion. Set aside.

Trim your asparagus, put them on a baking sheet, and toss with one tablespoon each of olive oil and soy sauce. Place them in a preheated 350 degree oven for 10 minutes while you cook your scallops.

Pat “scallops” dry and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add 1 Tablespoon olive oil to nonstick skillet and heat over medium-high heat. 

Think of the frying pan as a clock face and add the catfish “scallops”, one by one, in a clockwise order starting at 12 o’clock, then 1:00, etc. Fry for 90 seconds, then flip them over in the same order you placed the in the pan and fry for another 90 seconds. 

When he scallops are cooked, remove them from the pan onto a paper lined plate. 

Divide your cooked catfish “scallops” between your serving plates, add your cooked asparagus, and spoon your rice wine vinegar dressing over the top. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Serve immediately

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