Maryland's Best Seafood seeks Blue Catfish recipes!

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Maryland’s Best Seafood—a program within the Maryland Department of Agriculture—is soliciting blue catfish recipes for inclusion in its upcoming Maryland Seafood Cookbook. The program is promoting the consumption of this tasty invasive species in an effort to mitigate its impact on other Chesapeake Bay mainstays like blue crab, rockfish and oysters. Recipes will be compiled in an online database and published in the upcoming cookbook series.

“Blue catfish poses a major threat to our populations of blue crab, rockfish, oysters and more,” said Agriculture Secretary Joe Bartenfelder. “Lucky for us, this flaky white fish tastes great and may be controlled with an increase in consumption. That is why it is so important for us to increase demand among local chefs and consumers.”

Culinary students from Caroline County Technology Center’s program at the  Caroline School House’s Culinary Arts Center in Denton will test recipe submissions and a panel of judges will declare winners for appetizer and main dish recipes.  First place will receive $250.  Second place gets $150 and third place will received $100. The recipe submission form is available onlineRecipes must be submitted by May 1. Winners will be notified by July 1.

Blue catfish caught from the Chesapeake Bay is often compared to rockfish in taste and texture. This species is different from the more commonly-known catfish raised in ponds throughout the Southern U.S. Blue catfish is a non-native, invasive wild fish that was introduced in Virginia waters during the 1970s and is now prolific throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed. There are an estimated 500 million pounds of blue catfish in the bay. Local processors have only been able to use about 3 million pounds of blue catfish, due to a lack of awareness among chefs and consumers. Current estimates indicate that Maryland watermen would need to harvest at least 11 million pounds of blue catfish from the bay each year to maintain current stock.

For more information on the recipe contest, or general inquiries about Maryland’s Best Seafood, contact Ron Buckhalt at ron.buckhalt@maryland.gov or 410-841-5838.

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