Driving through the streets of Detroit, my hometown, it was common to pass by locals hosting fish fries, especially on Sundays. It was a community celebration with good food at the center of it. As my homage to those fish fries, I combined two of my favorite Southern dishes — Nashville hot chicken and catfish po'boys — to create one over-the-top sandwich worthy of celebration. You never knew the New Orleans staple would benefit so much from the vinegary Nashville hot sauce. And whether you prefer your fish fried or grilled on your sandwich, this recipe has got you covered.
For the Nashville hot sauce:
In a medium-size bowl, mix the pickle juice, melted butter, vinegar, brown sugar, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, paprika and onion powder.
For the catfish:
To fry the catfish: In a large bowl, combine the catfish, buttermilk and hot sauce. Soak the catfish for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, heat 1/3 inch of oil in a large Dutch oven to 325 F.
In a separate bowl, mix flour, cornmeal, Cajun seasoning and salt. Remove the fish from the buttermilk and coat each piece into the seasoned flour.
Place the fish into the oil, leaving about an inch in between each piece. You may have to fry in batches, depending on the size of your pan. Cook for 2-4 minutes, or until golden-brown and the internal temperature reaches 145 F. Drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Brush both sides of the fish with the Nashville hot sauce.
To grill the catfish: Preheat the grill or a skillet to medium heat (approximately 350 F to 400 F.) Season the catfish with Cajun seasoning and salt on both sides. Cook the fish for 3 minutes on each side, depending on the thickness of the fish. Once you flip the fish, brush generously with Nashville hot sauce.
For the slaw:
In a medium bowl, toss together the cabbage, carrots, green chilies, salt, pepper, Nashville hot sauce and mayo.
To assemble the sandwiches:
Assemble the po'boys by spreading mayo on both sides of the bread. Then, top the bread with the slaw, pickles, tomatoes, catfish, hot sauce and chives, if using.