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Fried Catfish

Fried Catfish

I buy both talapia and catfish from CostCo, and because the quantities are usually too large for our family, I put about half of each purchase in the freezer. Well, the other night I got some fish out of the freezer and announced that we were going to have fish and chips, assuming the fish was talapia. When it thawed, I announced we were having catfish instead, and a cheer went up. That surprised me, because the talapia is already one of the favorites around here.

Also, instead of tartar sauce, I decided to try a new recipe I found for an aioli cayenne sauce. (Aioli is French for garlic sauce.) Normally aioli is too much trouble to make on a weeknight, but here was a shortcut that made the sauce in minutes! Follow the link to make some to go with this catfish.

I also served this with blackeye peas, right out of the can. Now normally, blackeye peas right out of the can need a lot of work, or perhaps made into another dish like hoppin' john. But I tried Bush's blackeye peas for the first time, and they were great. I don't know the secret recipe, but I wouldn't make them from scratch if I did. They are too good as is.

Sometimes I cook the catfish the same way I do for fish and chips. You can follow the link in the above paragraph, but to summarize, I brined the fish for almost an hour, rinsed it, and patted it dry with paper towels. Then I dredged it in flour, then in beaten egg (with a little water added), and then in crushed soda crackers. I fried the fish in a skillet in 1/4 inch or so of hot oil for a few minutes (like three) on each side to get the golden brown color. I fried the fish in batches, keeping the finished ones warm in a 200 degree oven on a wire rack over paper towels on a cookie sheet.

Now, if you want really authentic Southern Fried Catfish, you've got to use cornmeal in the recipe. Here's how you make it:

salt and pepper
1 cup flour
1 cup milk
1 large egg
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Tabasco
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning (or Emeril's Essence, or similar)
1 teaspoon sugar

Heat oil in a large skillet or deep fryer to 320 degrees.

Cut the catfish fillets into serving pieces, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Spread the cup of flour over a plate, and dredge the fish in it to coat.

Mix the egg, milk, Worcestershire sauce and a few shakes of Tabasco in a bowl.

In a larger bowl, mix the rest of the stuff.

Dip the pieces of fish into the flour, then into the milk mixture, and then coat with the cornmeal mixture. Fry for seven minutes in the deep fryer, or 3-4 minutes per side in the skillet. Now you'll have the golden, delicious, crunchy fish that's so good you can hardly stand it.

This dinner REALLY got rave reviews from the happy eaters! And now they want the aioli cayenne sauce on everything. But this catfish is also good with tartar sauce, potato salad, cole slaw, and/or cooked greens, like collard or Swiss chard.


Copyright John P. Choisser - CookingDude.com 2005-2014