Fried catfish is a meal that is close to my heart. We all have something that awakens past memories of our childhood, be it good or bad, and this meal is a good nostalgic memory for me.
When I have fried catfish, it brings back memories of warm Saturday evenings. The family packing up in the car, getting our fishing rods and bait together then heading to the pond. On the way to the pond we would Listen to old school music that my dad would say was the best music. Then we would get to our destination of a catfish pond. Yes, catfish pond! We would feed the local ducks then proceed down the very long dirt path to our fishing spot. We would sit and fish for hours competing about who would catch the largest fish. I’d like to think I was the winner most of the time, but that could be slightly biased.
After a day of catching fish and feeding ducks wed all pack back up and head home. I remember on the car ride home just thinking about the catfish we would be eating that night for dinner. How light and golden brown they would be. How fresh and flaky the meat would be. Thinking back to it, I definitely was one for a good meal even at such a young age. Frying catfish was only one of the many meals my dad was good at cooking. The recipe I am sharing with you isn’t the same recipe my dad would use, but it is pretty much on par.
There are a few things you can do to enough this meal is a success. Make sure your oil is hot but not smoking. Test the oil by dropping a piece of batter in and seeing if it floats and browns. The breading used also plays a huge roll in how the fish will come out. I like to use a finely ground corn meal mixed with flour. The seasoning of the fish should also be light handed. Fish in general absorbs and reflects the flavor of the seasonings used on it. And an overly salted fish can ruin even the freshest of fish. Last but not least, I prefer catfish filet over catfish nuggets. However, either one can be used with this recipe.
The thickness of the filet plays a factor in the cook time of the fish. The larger the filet the longer to cook time, which increases the chances of the breading get overly browned. You want the fish filet to be a nice golden color. Thin cut filet are really popular here in New Orleans and I too enjoy the catfish in this fashion sometimes. To get the thinner filet, use a sharp filet knife and slice the filet into to smaller slices. Make sure you don’t shear or tear the meat with a dull knife.
Top the dish off with a squeeze of fresh lemon. The lemon compliments the lightness of the fish and elevates the flavor to another level. Over all this is a really good meal and of course pairs well with oven fries, tarter sauce, and can’t forget the hot sauce! Enjoy.
I’ve put together this little pictorial to show the steps of how I made the fish without taking up too much room on the post. If you like this layout let me know so I can recreate it. If you don’t like it, do likewise and maybe suggest how you would like the recipe delivered.
Southern Fried Catfish
- 2-3 lb Catfish Filet
- Old Bay
- 1/4 Cup Flour
- 1 Cup Fine Ground Corn Meal
- 1 Egg
- 1 tsp Mustard
- Vegetable Oil
Cut Filets into 3-4 in chunks and Season with Salt and Pepper to taste, 1 tbsp old bay, 1 tsp mustard, 1 whole egg
Season flour and corn meal mixture with 1 tsp of old bay seasoning blend.
Dredge fish in dry mixture then fry in well heated oil for atleast 4 mins per side.
Remove from oil and allow to dry on a baking rack. This will help the fish maintain a light and crispy exterior.
Fry fish in batches as to not overfill the skillet. It may take 2-3 batches depending on the size of your skillet.
Serve Hot with your choice of sides and a squeeze of lemon