Mexican Spiced Pan Seared Catfish with Bell Pepper Corn Relish

If you live in the south, you know the influence Mexican food has had on the region.  You can’t go to any town in the south without hearing the locals talk about their favorite Mexican restaurant.  Mexican food has made its way into the culture of the south as well as a large part of the country, and why wouldn’t it, it’s delicious!  I have been looking for a way to marry the spices of Mexico with a little piece of the south and nothing says Arkansas or the south like catfish.  So here is my version of Mexican spiced catfish that will fulfill both appetites for either cuisine.


This dish takes multiple components to make it work so there are a few steps to go through to get the final result, but it’s so worth it!  There are some couple parts that will need some marinating before using them, so they need to be completed before anything starts cooking.  Set the grill or the oven to 400.  I like to use the grill because the peppers and corn gets charred better over the flame and create a more intense flavor, but the oven will work as well.  Once the peppers and corn are charred dice them up and place in a bowl.  Tip on the corn, if you are not using the grill to char the corn, remove it from the cobb and place in a skillet on medium high heat until you get some char.  This works much better than placing it in the oven. 


Now that the roasted peppers and corn are in a mixing bowl, add the honey, salt, and pepper and fold together.  Cover the bowl and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to let the flavors come together.

Next, it’s time to create the compound butter that will be used to cover the fish.  You will be using a food processor for this step to combine everything so get that ready.  First you will need to get the butter soft, best way is to just set the sticks of butter out and let them come to room temperature.  If you are short on time, you can take a paper plate and place the butter on the plate still wrapped.  Place in microwave for about 30 seconds.  The butter should be soft and ready for the food processor, if it still feels a bit hard, just add another 30 seconds and check it after about 15 seconds.   Now add all the other ingredients to the food processor and pulse until it is well blended, now set to low for about 30 seconds.  Remove butter and place on plastic wrap, roll it out in a log shape.  Place the butter in the fridge and let it harden back up to use later.


When cooking fish or any protein, I want to make sure it is very dry and not covered in water.  Water will dilute the seasoning and cause it not to stick and develop the type of crust you desire.  After the fish is dry take the canola oil and lightly coat the fish and shrimp.  

After getting the fish coated in oil, season each filet with salt, pepper, and 1 tbsp Mexican seasoning per filet.  Feel free to use whatever Mexican seasoning you like as the store has plethora of options.  I like to mix my own blend by taking equal parts of chili powder, cumin, paprika, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper, then combining them. Once the fish is seasoned let it set for a few minutes to adhere the seasoning. 


Set sauté pan to medium high heat and then set the oven to 200 degrees.  The reason for the oven is to keep the fish warm while cooking it.  You will need to cook the fish in batches to keep the pan from losing its heat.  Now once the pan is hot, lay the fish in the pan, be sure to lay away from yourself to not splash any hot oil towards you.  Let the fish cook about 3 minutes per side.  After fish is cooked place in oven and add 1 tbsp of the butter on top of each filet.  The butter should melt over the fish and adding a new depth of flavor to the fish. 

Once all fish is cooked take the shrimp and add to pan and cook about 1 minute per side.  You can under cook the shrimp just a bit as they will finish in the sauce.  Remove shrimp to the oven and wipe out the pan.   Lower pan to medium heat and add the heavy cream.  Use the rest of the Mexican seasoning and add to the cream and whisk in.  Continue to whisk the cream sauce until it reduces by half, about 5 minutes.   Once your sauce is done, you can tell this by taking a spoon and coating the back of the spoon, then run your finger down the back of the spoon and if the sauce stays separated and doesn’t cover the line you traced then you’re at the right consistency, now add the shrimp into the sauce.  Be sure to coat the shrimp well and remove from the heat.  

Remove the fish from the oven.  The butter should have melted nicely over each filet, and they should still be nice and warm.  Lay the fish on the plate, take three shrimp and place over the top of each filet.  Spoon some of the cream sauce over the top of the fish.  Top each filet with some of the relish and serve.  This dish pairs well with some black beans as you can see from the picture.  You can really do a version of these easily instead of going from scratch with the beans.  Take a can of black beans and add to a pot on the stove.  Set the pot to medium low heat.  Once the beans are warmed through add some of your Bell Pepper Corn relish to the beans and cook for another 5 minutes just to let the relish warm through.  You can use this bean mixture as your base for the fish to sit on your plate.  Now sit back and enjoy this delicious dish with the family and friends!

Mexican Spiced Pan Seared Catfish with Bell Pepper Corn Relish

Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 4


  • 4 Catfish filets
  • 12 Shrimp peeled, deveined, tail off
  • 1 1/2 cups Heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup Mexican seasoning split 4 tbsp from this for filets
  • 1 tbsp Salt
  • 1 tbsp Black pepper

Green Chili Chipotle Butter – Yields 2 sticks worth – will use 4 tbsp for this recipe

  • 2 sticks Unsalted Butter
  • 2/3 cup Chipotles with Adobe sauce
  • 1/4 cup Green chilis
  • 1/4 cup Honey
  • 1 tbsp Salt
  • 1 tbsp Black Pepper

Bell Pepper Corn Relish – Yields 2 cups – Will use 1 cup for topping of filets – other cup for black beans

  • 2 cups Corn Roasted
  • 1 Green bell pepper roasted & diced
  • 1 Red bell pepper roasted & diced
  • 1 Jalapeno roasted & diced
  • 2 tbsp Olive oil
  • 1/4 cup Honey
  • 1 tbsp Salt
  • 1 tbsp Black Pepper


  • Set grill or oven to 400° and cover corn and peppers with olive oil.  Roast about 15 to 20 minutes or until well charred
  • Mix all ingredients in a bowl and cover and place in fridge for minimum 30 minutes
  • Take soften butter and place in food processor with all other ingredients.  Pulse until well blended.  Place in plastic wrap and roll into a log.  Place in fridge until needed
  • Set sauté pan to med/high heat and set over to 200°
  • Season fish and shrimp with canola oil, salt, pepper, and 1 tsp Mexican season per filet
  • Let fish set with seasoning for about 15 minutes to let the seasoning set
  • Cook fish on both sides, about 3 minutes per side.  May have to cook in batches.  When fish is done place on tray in oven and top with compound butter on each filet
  • Add shrimp to pan and cook about 1 minute per side.  Be sure to not over cook the shrimp, pulling sooner than the allotted time if needed as they will finish in the sauce.
  • Remove the shrimp from the pan and clean out any bit that may be burnt or close to burnt. Add cream to pan and season with the left-over Mexican seasoning.  Whisk until seasoning is well combined
  • Reduce the sauce by half, whisking as it cooks
  • Add fish to plate, top with 3 shrimp, top with cream sauce and top that with ¼ cup of the relish.
Keyword bell pepper corn relish, black beans, catfish, cream, fish, mexican, peppers, relish, seafood

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