How to Make Real Southern Catfish Stew


Smoky, sweet and spicy, catfish stew is an easy-to-make, one-pot stew that could quite feasibly be prepared at a camping ground next to the lake where the catfish loiter. Heartier than a clear fish bouillabaisse, the versions throughout the South vary in the amount of vegetables added.

Start to Finish: 25 minutes

Servings: 4

Difficulty Level: Novice

Things You'll Need

  • Dutch oven
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 4 strips bacon
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 sticks celery
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 can (14 ounces) tomatoes
  • 2 cups fish or chicken stock
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 3 potatoes, peeled
  • ½  teaspoon thyme
  • ½  teaspoon oregano
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ pounds catfish fillets
  • 1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ teaspoon chili flakes


Establishing the Aromas

  • Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over a medium to high heat and fry off the bacon, chopped into shorter strips that crisp up easily. 
  • Remove the bacon once the fat has rendered and set aside, but leave as much oil as possible in the pot.
  • Chop the onion, garlic, celery and bell pepper to make a standard Cajun mirepoix and saute them in the hot oil for about 5 minutes until tender.
  • Add the tomatoes, stock, wine and potatoes, chopped into small cubes for a quicker cook. 
  • Add the herb, spices and seasonings, cover the pot and allow it to simmer over a gentle heat for 20 minutes until the potatoes and celery are soft.

Adding the Catfish

  • Chop the catfish fillets into smaller pieces and add to the stew, then crumble the fried bacon pieces on top. 
  • Stir the stew, then add the Tabasco, Worcestershire sauce and chili flakes and simmer, covered, for a further 10 minutes until the catfish is solid white in color.
  • Remove from the heat and allow the stew to rest for a few minutes for the flavors to consolidate, then serve by itself, garnished with chopped parsley according to taste. 


  • Add lima beans and corn kernels for a heartier stew. Use ½ can of each, adding it to the stew roughly 10 minutes after the tomatoes and stock.

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