Catfish is quite the catch! For December’s Fish of the Month, we are featuring one of the most sustainable seafood options out there: U.S.-farmed catfish. If that doesn’t sound appealing enough, the recipe for Pecan Crusted Catfish with Cranberry Apple Quinoa will surely do the trick.

Farmed catfish are raised in self-contained ponds, which prevent disease from spreading to wild populations. These farming ponds keep our waters clean by recirculating any waste products before they renter our water supply. Additionally, catfish is a healthier option because farmers fed them a vegetarian diet, as opposed to just fish meal. This feeding process minimizes chemical usage, making it better for the fish—and for you.

It’s important to look for U.S.-farmed catfish while at the grocery store, given that certain international fish farms do not use the same responsible farming methods. In particular, catfish farms in the Vietnam Mekong Delta region may not require ecofriendly practices. Before selecting seafood from abroad, do the research to ensure the farm has responsible farming standards.

Check out the holiday recipe for Pecan Crusted Catfish with Cranberry Apple Quinoa and impress your family and friends with your environmental stewardship!

Serves 4

For the fish
4 4 ounce catfish fillets (or 2 8 ounce filets, divided)
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons milk
3/4 cup ground pecans, toasted, cooled and finely chopped

For the quinoa
1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
1 cup malty-style beer, flat
1 cup vegetable stock or water
1 shallot, finely diced
1 tart apple such as granny smith, unpeeled, diced
½ cup dried cranberries
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. In a shallow bowl, combine the mustard and milk. Place pecans in another shallow bowl.
2. Dip fillets in mustard mixture first, then in the pecans. Place fillets on a lightly oiled baking sheet.
3. Bake at 425° for 10 to 12 minutes, or until fish flakes easily with a fork.

While fish is baking, prepare the quinoa.

4. In a skillet, sautee shallot and apple in olive oil seasoning with salt and pepper, until lightly browned.
5. Add cranberries and sautee for a few minutes more.
6. Add rinsed quinoa to the pan, along with flat beer and vegetable stock or water.
7. Cover and cook until liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes.
8. To serve, plate fish portions on bed of quinoa.

Kara Kotwas, Shedd Aquarium’s Right Bite team