Published by Stewart, Tabori & Chang
It’s gospel, as far as I’m concerned: No catfish you ever make will ever be as good as catfish rolled in cornmeal and deep-fried. If you want to give it some extra moxie, marinate it in something good, as I do in this recipe. The other article of faith is the great superiority of small, wild catfish to big, farm-raised ones. Unfortunately, the catfish you find in the store is almost certainly farm-raised, which not only has an off-taste to me but also is too big.
NotesThe essential trick in frying fish is to keep the oil at 375 degrees. Use a fat thermometer to monitor this. Whatever utensil you have that will keep the heat up is fine. I’ve had good luck with a black iron skillet with an inch of oil, a deep Dutch oven with a couple of quarts of oil, and a good electric fryer.
Serves2 to 4
Total Timeunder 1 hour
OccasionCasual Dinner Party
Recipe Coursemain course
Dietary Considerationegg-free, soy free, tree nut free
Taste and Texturecrisp, savory
- 2 lb. small catfish fillets
- 3 Tbsp. yellow mustard
- 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp. juice from a jar of dill pickles
- 2 tsp. milder Louisiana hot sauce, such as Crystal
- 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
- 1 cup corn flour (Fish-Fry)
- 1 cup cornmeal
- 1 Tbsp. salt
- ½ tsp. granulated garlic
- Peanut oil, for frying
Wash the catfish and remove the skin and any remaining bones. Unless the fillets are very small, cut them on the bias into strips about 1½ inches wide.
Blend the mustard, lemon juice, pickle juice, hot sauce, and Worcestershire sauce in a bowl. Put the catfish fillets into the bowl and toss to coat with the marinade. Let marinate for about 30 minutes, refrigerated.
Combine the corn flour, cornmeal, salt, and garlic with a fork in a large bowl. Put 4-6 pieces of catfish into the corn-flour mixture and toss around to coat the catfish. Repeat with the remaining fish.
Pour the oil into a cast-iron skillet or a Dutch oven to a depth of 1 inch and place over medium-high heat until the temperature reaches 375 degrees. Working in batches, fry the catfish until they turn golden brown. Remove with a skimmer (or, better, the spider utensil used by Asian cooks). Drain on paper towels.
Serve with tartar sauce and pickles and hot sauce. And don’t forget the Hush Puppies.
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