This recipe is good for the heavy-hearted, but it makes you feel worse for eating it alone. Or maybe that's just me.

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There's a pub in New York City's Gramercy Park neighborhood called The Grand Saloon that makes one of the best salads I've ever had - it's tangy and light but filling, filling because they top the freshest greens imaginable with a homemade vinaigrette that'll knock your socks off, top that with grilled portobello mushrooms, then top that with a little under a pound of tender, marinated steak.

I know it's hard to believe, but I wasn't hungry enough for something like that tonight, not because I'd eaten earlier but because I think I did something kinda stupid and it just wasn't in me. But that's not the point here - I altered the recipe a tad (okay, a lot) and came up with something new.

And I didn't have any steak in the fridge anyway.

This'll feed three people, two if you're starving. It's delicate but rich and flavorful, and will provide that lovely foodie state where information between your brain and stomach completely disagrees.

You'll need:

  • 1 catfish filet (about 3/4 pound or so)
  • 2 thick slices red onion, each slice cut into quarters
  • a handful of baby portabello mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 chopped jalapeno pepper, seeded or at least mostly seeded. It's powerful stuff.
  • Juice from a lemon
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1 handful fresh chopped sage
  • really, really good olive oil
  • really, really good balsamic vinegar
  • romaine lettuce
  • Fresh spinach
  • salt and pepper

You'll notice, upon examining your hunk o' catfish, that there's a ridge that runs down its center. Cut down this ridge from top to bottom leaving you with two long strips of meat. Then cut these lengthwise into 1-inch strips. Chuck 'em in a bowl with the onions and mushrooms and add, well...almost everything - add a splash of olive oil (just a tiny bit of it), the minced garlic, the sage, the lemon juice, the jalapeno pepper and a sprinkling of S&P. Mix it around (carefully so as not to damage the flesh of the fish too much) and let it sit for awhile. The longer it sits the stronger it'll be, but you don't want to overdo it, particularly if you decided not to seed the pepper. 15 minutes at room temperature should be just fine.

While that all is mingling, put a cast-iron pan on the stove on high heat. You'll know it's hot enough for the cooking when a drop of water flicked at its surface bounces its way across the pan. Once it's hot enough, add the contents of the bowl to the pan and let it cook. You're going to want to turn the fish after five or six minutes to cook the other side but catfish is forgiving - if you're off by a minute or two it'll still be fine, and there's something to be said for a little charring to the meat. Try not to move the fish too much; you don't want it to flake in the pan. The onions and mushrooms will burn if you're not careful, though, so keep an eye on them.

While the fish is cooking, throw your romaine and spinach (or any other combination of greens you want, but steer clear of the bitter ones) in a large bowl and drizzle them with vinegar and oil; there's a trick to this - you need far less oil and a tad more vinegar than you think you do. Toss them together and set it aside.

Now turn your fish. Be gentle, but make sure you flipped all of the pieces. Keep it cooking; if you slide a piece of fish across the pan and you see it leave tiny catfish flakes in its wake, it's done. Salt and pepper the pan to taste and add the contents of the pan to the bowl of greens. Toss them together (again, gently), and serve. I think fresh parmesan would make a great garnish to this, but I haven't tried it yet.

For lilpupdog, who seems hungry these days.

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