Cherry Tomato Tequila Butter Salsa with Fried Fish

August 12, 2011


Author Notes: I can't remember where the inspiration for this recipe originated, most likely a food magazine from the 1990's. I've never written it down until posting, Google search does not come up with any overlap.

It's changed over the years for me, using cilantro stems, and using cherry tomatoes for the salsa base.
For quicker use, I've used chunky jarred salsa instead of fresh product, but of course the fresh is much better. I normally use the "Christmas grape" cherry tomatoes when I make it fresh.

You can use this sauce with chicken cutlets pounded flat and treated in the same manner. Cilantro is very optional at my house, however, for cilantro haters chopped Cilantro stems--no leaf--will give you the flavor without the cilantro reaction that some find distasteful. You can substitute chopped parsley or omit.
Any firm fish can be used, but the cornmeal and strong tones of the catfish work well with the flavorful salsa butter. - Sam1148
Sam1148

Food52 Review: Sam1148 uses catfish for this simple stunner, but really you could use any mild, white fish. A light cornmeal coating gives the fish a delicate crunch, and while you may be skeptical of the scant amount of lime juice and garlic you use to marinate the fish, it manages to shine through. But the salsa is the real star of the show: plump cherry tomatoes cook down with onion, tequila, jalapeno, cilantro and lime, and after you add a knob of butter, you've got a silky, spicy, vibrant sauce for the crisp, fresh fish. -A&MThe Editors

Serves: 2

Ingredients

Marinade and coating for fish

  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 clove crushed garlic
  • 2 fillets of catfish
  • 1/2 cup corn meal
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • ground black pepper

Tequila Butter Salsa

  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes (cut in half)
  • 1-2 jalapeno pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 clove crushed garlic
  • 1/2 tablespoon chopped cilantro stems
  • 1 teaspoon lime zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • water or chicken stock
  • 1-2 shots tequila
  • lime juice and/or zest to taste
  • 2-3 tablespoons soft butter
  • 2 chopped green onions for garnish
In This Recipe

Directions

  1. Mix the olive oil, lime juice, and garlic with the fish (or chicken) in a non-reactive bowl and let rest for 1 hour.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add tomatoes, jalapeno, onion, garlic, cilantro stems, and lime zest and begin cooking it down, stirring occasionally. It should be well cooked down and bright red, and the juices should be a bit reduced. Add stock or water to the salsa if needed to keep it from sticking. Add tequila; I go for 2 shots of tequila and add a bit more lime zest and lime juice for mine. Cook some more until the juices are reduced.
  3. Heat a thin layer of butter and/or oil in another large saute pan over medium high heat. Season the corn meal with salt and pepper, dredge the fish and fry in the olive oil or butter until golden brown on both sides, flipping once, about 1-2 minutes. Remove to a warm oven while you finish the sauce.
  4. To finish: Stir in a few tablespoons of softened butter off heat. Do this off the heat as you want the butter to make a creamy sauce. Serve over the fish. Garnish with chopped green onions and serve with lime wedges. Note: A nice crunchy finishing salt as an option for guests can be served along side the dish.

More Great Recipes:
Salsa|Condiment/Spread|Seafood|Vegetable|Tequila|Tomato|Butter|Cherry|Cilantro|Green Onion/Scallion|Jalapeño|Lime Juice

Reviews (29) Questions (0)

29 Reviews

kschurms June 27, 2017
Amazing! I made it with thin chicken breasts instead of catfish, and it came out great. I did have to add a bit of breadcrumbs and egg for the chicken coating, but everything else was the same. Since I'm a cilantro lover, I'll likely add more cilantro leaves to the sauce at the end. The sauce will easily become part of my regular rotation!
 
A&O August 13, 2013
Can this be canned if I didn't add the butter?
 
Author Comment
Sam1148 August 19, 2013
I've used Jarred Salsa for this as a short cut, and cooked that down a bit, adding water as needed while cooking it down; adding the tequila and butter at the end. So make a basic salasa and can that---then proceed with the cook down, tequila and butter.
 
amyjk February 22, 2013
I couldn't find decent catfish so I made this with chicken. OH MY GOD it's delicious!!! Plenty of salsa leftover and can't wait to have more, probably for breakfast it was that good! I look forward to getting some nice catfish and making it with that. I used mini heirloom tomatoes from trader joes and the colors were beautiful. A+++ recipe
 
dalibor September 5, 2012
I subbed vodka for tequila and it worked beautifully! Excellent dish that is healthy for the season and colorful!
 
gonz February 8, 2012
Just found this sight, and can,t wait to use the recipes, looks veryyy high end, but yet simple. Will try the fried fish with the cherry tomatoe salsa manana. Thanks amelia
 
gonz February 8, 2012
Just found this sight, and can,t wait to use the recipes, looks veryyy high end, but yet simple. Will try the fried fish with the cherry tomatoe salsa manana. Thanks amelia
 
UTCobb January 27, 2012
I've used this salsa with fried triggerfish, mahi, catfish, and grouper. And the other night I broiled some scallops and then topped them with the salsa...they too, were delicious! This recipe is wonderful! Thank you!
 
UTCobb January 27, 2012
I've used this salsa with fried triggerfish, mahi, catfish, and grouper. And the other night I broiled some scallops and then topped them with the salsa...they too, were delicious! This recipe is wonderful! Thank you!
 
Heidrun December 8, 2011
This surprised me a bit. It sounded like it was going to be very light, but it ended up being one of the more umami-y dishes I've had in a while. My girlfriend is a pescatarian, so it's nice to have a slightly heavy dish coming from fish for a change. Great recipe.
 
jennvill October 16, 2011
Wow...out of this world! My fish loving husband was oh so pleased! Can't wait to try another's suggestion with fish tacos. I will be making this often. :)
 
deanna1001 August 30, 2011
I just made the salsa part to use with a roasted pork tenderloin. Wow! Fabulous! Will definitely try this with fish, but it was great over the pork (seasoned with s&p and chili powder then browned and roasted for 25 minutes.)<br />
 
AntoniaJames August 29, 2011
Made this fish on Saturday . . . fantastic!! Didn't have any tequila, so I served the chimichurri sauce + mayo combo from sdebrango's Your Best Flank Steak winner, and my "Summer Salad." Another all-food52 meal, and it was an excellent, if I may say so. ;o)
 
Author Comment
Sam1148 August 26, 2011
To add another use for this salsa. Use it with fish cut in strips and fried for a topping for fish tacos. With a crunchy lime/olive oil slaw on top.<br />I do take a short cut sometimes and use jarred salsa. which makes a creamy full covering salsa, but boost it up with fresh herbs, green onions and lime juice to finish. Cook down the jarred salsa with garlic and lime juice and stock. Loosen it up with the tequila and butter at end game.
 
phelonious August 25, 2011
just discovered food52 via huffington post, hands down the best food site i have ever used. can't wait to try some of the recipes.
 
EmilyC August 25, 2011
Congrats on being a finalist! I love all of the elements of this dish!
 
fiveandspice August 25, 2011
Congratulations! This looks fantastic! I love the sound of both the crispy fish and that amazing salsa.
 
Author Comment
Sam1148 August 25, 2011
Wow, Thanks everyone! What wonderful pictures. This might get me over my fear of quantifying recipes.
 
gingerroot August 25, 2011
Congrats! I don't eat fish very often, but this sounds delicious. I hope to try it this weekend.
 
gingerroot August 26, 2011
I could not wait for the weekend. Had everything on hand except for the fish and made this for dinner last night. Served over quinoa, this is a delicious dish. I subbed a hatch chile (finally sourced a few!!) for the jalapeno and rock cod for the catfish. The crisp coating contrasted by the delicate fish and topped with such a stunning salsa makes this something I will come back to repeatedly. Congrats again.
 
BlueKaleRoad August 25, 2011
Congratulations! I'm always looking for new fish recipes and this one is stunning.
 
healthierkitchen August 25, 2011
Yay Sam!! Sounds terrific!