Unsweetened cocoa powder can transform savory dishes. Its luxurious richness adds depth to proteins, like the catfish in this recipe from Nicole A. Taylor, featured in Bryant Terry’s book Black Food. You can swap the benne seeds with sesame seeds and maple sugar with light brown sugar, depending on what you have on hand. Instead of catfish, feel free to use any skinless white-fleshed fish fillet.
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4 – 6 Servings
Tbsp. Diamond Crystal or 3½ tsp. Morton kosher salt
Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
tsp. benne seeds or sesame seeds
tsp. maple sugar or light brown sugar
tsp. caraway seeds
tsp. dried bird chile flakes or other crushed red pepper flakes
lb. catfish or other skinless whitefish fillets
Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
Mix salt, cocoa powder, benne seeds, maple sugar, caraway seeds, and chile flakes in a large bowl until well combined.
Do Ahead: Cocoa rub can be made 2 weeks ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.
Place a rack in top of oven; preheat to 400°. Cut oranges into 6 rounds each and set aside.
Rinse catfish and pat dry with paper towels. Place fillets on a rimmed baking sheet and sprinkle liberally on both sides with rub. Drizzle with oil, then arrange orange slices on top of fillets.
Roast catfish until flesh flakes easily when gently pressed with your finger, 7–9 minutes. (For thicker varieties of fish, increase the cooking time to 10–12 minutes.)
To serve, transfer orange slices to a platter and arrange fish on top.
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