Is there catfish in Buenos Aires?

I was super stoked when I first heard that catfish was available here in Buenos Aires.

I saw the whiskered fellas in barrio chino back in March but hadn’t seem them since.

Por suerte while waiting at the Saturday Bolivian verduleria in Plaza Armenia I stumbled upon the fish guy who had fresh bagre for 15 pesos a kilo.

I had him filet the fish, bought some veggies and returned home very excited.

The plan- blackened catfish sandwich.

In NOLA catfish is buy far the most popular fish.  AND FOR GOOD REASON, they’re amazing.

Here in BA there is Rio de la Plata which contributes a variety of freshwater and brackish fish, adding to the little supply of marine seafood available.  However catfish aka bagre doesn’t have the tasty reputation that it does in NOLA, Europe, and Asia….

Word on the street is that there’s three types of bagre here- skin color determining the type.  I was also told that it goes by the name of pati.  Yesterday the fish guy told me had both bagre and pati, so now I’m confused.  If anyone knows anything about this, please share!

Blackened Bagre Sandwich

  • clean & de-boned filet of catfish, bagre
  • butter leaf lettuce, lechuga manteca
  • roma tomatoes, tomate perita
  • mayo, mayonesa
  • green onion, verdeo
  • lemon, límon
  • Cajun seasoning- paprika, cayenne, white pepper, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, & salt
  • butter, manteca
  • bread, pan

Place the cast iron over a high flame.  The pan needs to be SMOKING HOT in order for it to cook properly.  I don’t suggest doing this in a non-stick or stainless steel pan.  It’ll most likely burn.  You need a grill/griddle/clay something that can handle SUPER high temperatures.  DON’T put butter or oil in the pan, leave it bare.

While the cast iron is heating, prep your vegetables, lightly toast the bread, and make the mayo.  Slice verdeo and squeeze about 1/2 a lemon over some mayo and lightly season with salt & pepper.  Mix well, check seasoning and set aside.

When the cast iron is smoking pour a generous amount of Cajun seasoning on both sides of the filets.  Place the fish (skin side down) into the naked cast iron without overcrowding.  DON’T MESS WITH THE FISH once it’s in or you will screw up the crust.  Put a piece of butter on top of each filet and when the fish starts to get a white border around the edges wait another minute and then flip.  Lower the heat to medium so the butter wont burn.  The fish should take VERY little time to cook.

Transfer the fish to a plate and top them off with some fresh lemon juice.  Don’t use the pre-packaged lemon juice, IT’S GARBAGE, use the real thing!!

Assemble the sandwich- bread, mayo, tomato (cut thin & seasoned with salt & pepper), lettuce, fish, mayo, bread.  Enjoy.

The bagre I used looks NOTHING like the catfish in NOLA.  It was very red and very meaty.  The flavor was okay and it held together real nice while cooking without breaking apart.  However the majority of the goodness was not from the fish but from the seasoning, mayo & fresh veggies.  Not sure what I think of bagre just yet…..