Catfish with Tomatillo Salsa in Packets

Catfish with Tomatillo Salsa in Packets

2 Reviews
From: EatingWell Magazine July/August 2009

Tomatillos provide a distinctive tart flavor to a super-easy salsa that cooks with the catfish. Try it with tomatoes too.

Ingredients 4 servings

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Original recipe yields 4 servings
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  • 1-1 1/4 pounds catfish, cut into 4 portions, or 4 tilapia fillets (4-5 ounces each)
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 pound tomatillos, (see Tip), husks removed, coarsely chopped
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 jalapeño, or serrano pepper, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, (optional)


  • Active

  • Ready In

  1. Preheat oven to 400 °F (or see Grill Variation, below).
  2. To prepare packets, start with four 20- to 24-inch-long pieces of parchment paper or foil. Fold in half crosswise. With the parchment or foil folded, draw half a heart shape on one side as you would if you were making a Valentine. Use scissors to cut out the heart shape. Open up the heart.
  3. Season fish with cumin, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper. Combine tomatillos, onion, chile pepper, garlic and cilantro in a large bowl; stir in lime juice, oil, the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and cayenne to taste (if using).
  4. Place one portion of fish on one side of each open heart fairly close to the crease and leaving at least a 1-inch border around the edges for folding. Place one-fourth of the salsa (about 1 cup) on top of each fish portion.
  5. Close the packet to cover the ingredients. Starting at the top, seal the packet by folding the edges together in a series of small, tight folds. Twist the tip of the packet and tuck it underneath to help keep the packet closed. Place the packets on a large rimmed baking sheet (packets may overlap slightly). Bake until the fish is opaque in the center, about 20 minutes. (Carefully open one package to check for doneness—be cautious of the steam.) Let packets rest unopened for 5 minutes before serving.
  6. Grill Variation: Cooking in packets is great for the grill, but it's not safe to put parchment paper over an open flame, so use foil. To prepare packets for grilling, start with eight 20- to 24-inch-long pieces of foil. Layer two sheets for each of four packets (the double layers will help protect the contents from burning). Arrange the ingredients on one half of each double layer. Fold the foil over the ingredients and tightly seal the packets by crimping and folding the edges together. Grill over medium heat for 10 to 12 minutes, rotating the packets to another spot on the grill about halfway through to ensure even cooking.
  • Equipment: Parchment paper or foil
  • Tip: Tomatillos are tart, plum-size fruits that look like small, husk-covered green tomatoes. Find them in the produce section near the tomatoes. Remove outer husks and rinse well before using.

Nutrition information

  • Per serving: 220 calories; 12 g fat(2 g sat); 3 g fiber; 11 g carbohydrates; 19 g protein; 27 mcg folate; 62 mg cholesterol; 6 g sugars; 0 g added sugars; 267 IU vitamin A; 23 mg vitamin C; 30 mg calcium; 1 mg iron; 551 mg sodium; 719 mg potassium
  • Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin C (40% daily value), Potassium (21% dv)
  • Carbohydrate Servings: 1
  • Exchanges: 1 1/2 vegetable, 2 1/2 lean meat, 1 fat

Reviews 2

February 28, 2013
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By: EatingWell User
Out of this world for flavor! I am southern and thought there was nothing better than fried catfish and hushpuppies but this recipe proved me wrong! Being on a diet and having fresh catfish I decided to use this recipe. It did take me a while to dice and mince all the ingrediants and I didn't understand about the cutting the heart in the foil but tried and all the stuff fell out, so I just started over with small strips of foil, covered fish with salsa and crimped it completely closed which seemed to work great! It was most certainly worth the extra work I put into it and a lot of the prep could be done earlier. Thank you for sharing the recipe with us! Pros: perfect blend of seasonings, low calorie, tastes great! Cons: Takes a while to prepare spices
March 18, 2010
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By: EatingWell User
Fantastic way to prepare catfish; the fish practically melts in your mouth (loses any hint of rubberiness). The salsa has just the right amount of tanginess, tartness, and underlying heat. Lots of variations come to mind with the recipe, but it's wonderful just the way it is.