This is an easy way to create the kind of crunchy, juicy fillets that you can find in catfish houses throughout the South.  I soak my catfish in buttermilk for an hour before frying – it clears out that occasionally “muddy” flavor that freshwater fish can acquire, and adds a tang to the crispy crust.

You will need:

  • 2 c yellow cornmeal
  • 1 c white flour
  • 1/4 c seasoned salt – use a proprietary blend, or make your own using salt, pepper, garlic powder, and cajun seasoning
  • 2 T baking powder
  • 4 catfish fillets
  • 1 lemon 
  • canola oil
  • a cast iron skillet
1.  Heat a couple inches of oil in a cast iron skillet.  Test for heat by dropping in a bead of water – it should sputter and scatter across the surface of the oil.  If you have a deep-fry thermometer, heat the oil until it reads 350 degrees.

2.  Mix the first four ingredients together in a large bowl.  Dredge the catfish fillets in the cornmeal mixture, and then shake gently to remove excess coating.  Make sure the fillets are completely covered, as it will form a crust once it cooks.

3.  Fry the fillets two at a time in the skillet, turning once (carefully, with a spatula) – about 8 minutes.  Remove from oil and drain on a wire rack above a drain pan or newspapers.  Repeat with the second two fillets.

4.  Serve hot with lemon wedges and tartar sauce, or with a spicy mixture of ketchup and horseradish on the side.

I like these with spicy black eyed pea and rice hash and steamed lemon-garlic collard greens.  Corn muffins make a great side – try them with cream cheese and jalapeno jelly.


Southern-style Fried Catfish
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