Knox Mason chef Matt Gallaher got some love from our readers as this year’s Metro Pulse Best of Knoxville Best Chef, and the intrepid Dennis Perkins has also written about him recently: Restaurant Report Knox Mason
But restaurant and chef are going to be getting some more publicity and admiration in an upcoming version of YUMMM!!!, the MP’s unparalleled restaurant guide, and it was while doing research for that project (hey, someone’s got to take the hit for the team) that I fell for Knox Mason’s catfish. “Oh my,” I said, and I am not one for either idle compliments or a fondness for restaurant catfish. More likely, in my experience, a place employs catfish in place of a firmer white fish, say cod, in the deep fryer, where it does not fare well. Or the “bites” or fillets are frozen, or the fish used for them was once frozen.
But this morsel of manna, oh my. Wait, I already said that, but I was mesmerized. It was light, moist, seasoned perfectly, and pan fried in canola oil with a non-intrusive coating of a local cornmeal. It didn’t hurt at all that the fish was coddled in a sort of ratatouille with the freshest eggplant and some crookneck squash, and hemmed in by a puddle of heirloom tomato reduction on the other. As you might remember, when I get a food crush, I tend to go all the way. This will be top crush candidate for some time to come.
It was also super fun to visit with Chef Matt. His quirky quotes and easy knowledge of cooking with summer produce and a light touch will grace the upcoming summer YUMMM!!! issue. But I didn’t want you to have to wait that long to learn about this catfish–and I’m not waiting long for my next serving, either.