Mardi Gras Recipe: Crispy Pan-Fried Catfish From Cleo Wade & Zatarain’s

Mardi Gras has always been about coming together – whether that means stepping out your front door and into a celebration or travelling to New Orleans in anticipation of a good time.

While we are unable to observe the tradition as we have in years past – in the streets, with lively parades and music – that doesn't mean the Mardi Gras experience has been cancelled. With a little creativity and thought around the elements we most enjoy, Zatarain's partnered with New Orleanian author, poet, and community builder Cleo Wade to capture the spirit of the festivities and invite all to join in by hosting their own #ZatarainsPorchParty.

This Carnival season has been more about community than ever. That includes considering our neighbors by adhering to social distancing guidelines and participating from home with a #ZatarainsPorchParty. For inspiration, Cleo is sharing her bold take on the annual tradition by introducing a new recipe to help us all indulge in the experience through flavor, along with fun tips and decoration ideas so that any space can be transformed into an over-the-top Mardi Gras-esque float.  Through this shared activity, Zatarain's and Cleo encourage all to embrace the essence of the holiday with peace of mind.

Additionally, Zatarain's and Cleo selected Culture AID NOLA as the recipient of a $25,000 gift. The non-profit has a mission to serve the culture of New Orleans by directing no-barrier, stigma-free aid to underserved members of the hospitality and cultural community. Zatarain's will join Culture AID NOLA starting February 6th, for ten food distribution events over ten weeks. And, for a limited time leading up to Fat Tuesday, Zatarain's will additionally distribute #ZatarainsPorchParty kits in the city, which includes Mardi Gras décor and Zatarain's rice mix

"I loved growing up in New Orleans and am excited to be bringing the spirit of Mardi Gras to my home celebration this year through a Zatarain's Porch Party with rich flavor and parade-inspired decor," said Wade. "My mom is a fantastic chef, with a catering company in the city. She helped me perfect the dirty rice and crisp panéed catfish recipe I'm sharing. Most importantly, I am proud to partner with such a locally revered brand like Zatarain's, to support the work that Culture Aid NOLA is doing for our community."

Cleo  is celebrating at home with her father, who is also a New Orleans native. The two took inspiration from the krewes that make Mardi Gras so unique, and decorated Cleo's porch like the parade floats they love and miss seeing this year.  They exchanged favorite memories of spending the holiday in New Orleans, while preparing a recipe passed down from her mother, Mama's Mambo Veggie Dirty Rice with Crispy Pan-Fried Catfish together using Zatarain's Dirty Rice Mix and Fish Fri broth, which helped shortcut prep time without skimping on the NOLA-inspired flavor.


6 Servings




  1. For the Dirty Rice, heat oil in large heavy bottomed saucepan on medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and onion; cook and stir 5 to 7 minutes, or until lightly browned and softened. Stir in garlic; cook 1 minute, until fragrant. Stir in Rice Mix and stock; bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, 25 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes then fluff with a fork.

  2. Meanwhile, for the Catfish, heat oil in large cast iron skillet to about 350°F. Sprinkle catfish on both sides with Creole Seasoning. Mix buttermilk and egg in shallow dish. Place Fish Fri in separate shallow dish. Dip catfish fillets in buttermilk mixture, shaking gently to remove excess. Coat evenly on both sides with Fish Fri.

  3. Fry catfish 3 to 5 minutes per side until cooked through. Drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with parsley and additional Creole Seasoning, if desired. Serve with Dirty Rice.

  4. Leftover Tip: Reheat leftover Dirty Rice and top with eggs for an easy breakfast bowl made up your favorite way. Add the fixin’s like extra beans, corn, salsa or tomatoes, avocado, shredded cheese, sour cream, and green onions… and don’t forget a dash of Zatarain’s® Cajun Hot Sauce.

"Zatarain's is proud to be part of New Orleans' vibrant and bold artistic community, and during these challenging times, we want to continue to support the city that is at the heart of our brand's DNA," said Jill Pratt, Chief Marketing Excellence Officer for Zatarain's.  "We hope you will join us in celebrating this beloved holiday from home with your own festive decorations and delicious New Orleans inspired food."

For Cleo's family recipe, Mama's Mambo Veggie Dirty Rice with Crispy Pan-Fried Catfish, and more Mardi Gras celebration tips and cooking inspiration visit www.zatarains.comInstagramFacebook and Pinterest. To share your celebration, post with #ZatarainsPorchParty.

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