Years ago I had a business trip to New Orleans. This was about 1990 as I recall just after Mardi Gras.  Arrived for the last day of festivities (which I would never take the grandkids to experience)

Over the 4 days I fell in love with spicy Cajun meals.  Crawfish Etouffee, dirty rice, Hurricanes, and Gumbo.  Blackened Catfish was a special dish that I had at Paul Prudhomme’s restaurant (at the time a big TV star chef)  Anyone showing up had to line up on the  sidewalk, drinking Rum Hurricanes  as you waited to get a table.

Over the years I had thought of seafood (aside from lobster) as either bland or as part of a deep fried Fish and Chip meal where the vinegar and salt made the fish taste exotic.  Several fish dinners including blackened Catfish changed my mind.

I flew back to Calgary with a Louisiana cookbook and a supply of File (ground sassafras) whichI had never seen as a spice before but I knew I needed it.   I arrived home in the late evening in a taxi with Pat in the bathtub and all the kids asleep.  I rushed upstairs to her bath to show the recipes with her and promised a Cajun meal on the weekend. ( also noticed she was naked but that is another story)

Over the years we enjoyed many of the cajun meals and they have been nice but the best has always been the blackened catfish.  Simple recipe you take a cast iron pan heated until it is almost red hot.  Season catfish fillets with cajun seasoning and black pepper.  Throw on the red hot pan, flip after 1 minute and one minute late it is done.  Pan must be hot enough to singe the seasoning into the fish.

Problem on Vancouver Island is that you cannot get Catfish.  I ask at the local fish store (and here on the Island we get great fresh fish supplies; Mussels, Oysters, Salmon, Pacific Cod and Halibut) but the fish monger thinks that catfish is a garbage fish so why would anyone on the west coast buy it. 

I have tried to replicate the blackened fish recipe with west coast fish but with little success.  Tonight I made blackened Tilapia and it was like a flourish coating over a non existent fish. Catfish has enough oil and flavour to be part of the meal instead of the bland carrier of the coating.  Still a pretty good Friday night meal with dolamades as an appetizer, red beans and rice, and yams with the spicy Tilapia.  (when you think of it not a bad meal in itself)

I love being on the Island but there are times that I miss the eclectic supply that we had living next to Toronto.