Catfish baked in pepper sauce (Point and kill)
To the uninformed Point and kill sounds like an order from the army, police or at best, game hunters. Never will they guess it has anything to do with fish. In all honesty, point and kill sound violent but that is the name Nigerians have lovingly given to popular pub or restaurant dishes of fresh catfish.
It simply means you point at a live fish in an artificial pond in the restaurant and it will be killed and deliciously cooked for you. It will be cooked as you wait, drink, gist and listen to good music. The fish is sold by size or weight with each pond containing fish of the same size.
The beauty of point and kill lies in the freshness of the fish. When growing up, we hardly ever stored fresh catfish in the freezer, if ever, probably a day or two. It would usually go from being killed straight to the pot. Those fishes weren’t grown in ponds then but caught from the river and that made them extra special. They were sold by the roadside in the village of Amansea in eastern Nigeria, we always passed Amansea on the way to my village. The catfishes were huge with heads the size of a dinner plate. Point and kill though pond fish is still special but my Renaissance Man still insists on fresh fish from the river and only eats pond fish grudgingly.
There exists point and kill bars where this dish is served almost exclusively. They are so well patronised and almost always filled to the brim. There are about 3 different ways the fish is prepared, wrapped in foil and baked in pepper sauce, seasoned with a dry pepper rub then grilled and third, catfish pepper soup. This post is for baked catfish in pepper sauce wrapped in foil and served with french fries and a coleslaw.
Between you and I, catfish prepared this way is best eaten with your hand if the setting permits, though the Point and Kill restaurants give that option. I am now salivating, good food is precious.
To prepare Catfish baked in Pepper sauce point and kill
200g shombo pepper 200g scotch bonnet 400g onions 3 teaspoons salt 2 tablespoons vegetable oil 3-4 teaspoons fish seasoning 1.5 kg catfish aluminium foil
Wash and puree shombo, scotch bonnet and onions, add salt and seasoning powder, stir well and taste.
If you have to use a blender, use just enough water to get the blender to work. On the other hand, you can grind your pepper mix in the market using their heavy-duty grinders without adding water at all. Set aside.
Wash catfish, cut open the belly and remove the gut. (A post on how to do this coming soon).
Rinse and dry the gut. Using a sharp knife make slits about 1 inches apart across the body.
Using a sharp knife score the fish by make slits about 1 inches apart across the body of the fish. The Cut should be deep about half way between the skin and the bone.
Sprinkle some salt all over the skin of the fish, the gut cavity and into the slits.
Preheat oven to 200 deg. C
Cut out enough aluminium foil to cover the whole catfish.
Spread on a baking tray and rub all over with some vegetable oil.
Lay fish on the foil and pour your pepper mix all over the fish, into the slits and the gut cavity.
Flip the fish and repeat.
Drizzle a little oil all over the fish and wrap folding foil lengthwise.
Make sure every part of the fish is covered and well sealed so that the juices will not leak out and there will be even circulation of heat.
Put into the oven and bake for 45 minutes depending on the size of fish, till the fins come off easily when pulled.
Take out of the oven and leave to rest about 2 minutes.
Serve with french fries (potato chips) with lime, ketchup and a coleslaw.
- Shombo is fresh cayenne pepper.
- The pureed pepper should be very well pureed, if your blender isn’t powerful enough, use the commercial grinders in the market.
- Do not use boiling hot water to remove slime when washing fish for roasting, it will stiffen the flesh of the fish.
- The juices from the fish will water down the pepper sauce so be a little generous with the salt.
- You can insert thin slices of lime or lemon into the slits and lay some on top of the fish.
- The fish should be baked in an oven set at between 180 deg. C and 230 deg. C, the bigger the fish, the higher the temperature.
- Make sure to taste your pepper sauce before using it.
- Scouring helps distribute heat in the fish for even cooking and also for the seasoning to get inside the flesh.
- Make sure to grease the aluminium foil so that the fish won’t stick to it.
- Be careful to wrap fish well, so there will be no leakage, it also helps to keep the steam inside for a moist fish flesh.
- Fish seasoning in powder, cube or liquid form is different from crayfish seasoning.
I am sure you will also enjoy my Yoryor (Crispy fried whitebait fish in herb butter sauce), Fish baked in foil with vegetables and smoked fish sauce.
I will like to know how much you enjoyed your Catfish baked in pepper sauce (point and kill). Do you have a contribution or suggestion? Leave a comment below.
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