Catfish is a light, mild and almost sweet fish that is fished or farm grown in Asia, Africa, Europe and North America. Though there are many ways to prepare catfish, frying it is popular in the southern United States---with each fish frying restaurant perfecting its own secret recipe, according to the article "Deep-fried Secrets of a Catfish Joint." Breading ingredients like flour, cornmeal, bread crumbs and cereal can be key components in creating the perfect catfish frying recipe.
One of the simplest ways to bread catfish is with a flour mixture, as demonstrated in the article "Catfish Has a New Image." Usually the flour is flavored with spices to help flavor the fish. In this recipe 1 1/2 cups of flour is mixed with 1 tsp. of salt, 2 tspn. of black pepper and 1 tsp. of dried mustard. The fish is rolled around in the dry mixture until it is completely coated, and then it is fried in vegetable oil until golden brown. The fried fish can be sprinkled with lemon juice or a vinegar-based sauce, once it is cooked and removed from the oil.
Cornmeal breading, as featured in the recipe "Catfish with Cornmeal Breading," is popular in the Southern United States. This fry batter recipe mixes 1 cup of yellow cornmeal with 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 ½ tsp. of celery salt, 1/2 tsp. of paprika and 1/4 tsp. each of dry mustard and black pepper. These dry ingredients are shifted in a bowl and put aside. The cornmeal recipe uses a double dipping method, which requires that the fish first be dipped in plain flour, before being dredged in a milk and egg wash (1/4 cup milk, 2 eggs). Then, the fish is coated with the cornmeal mixture and refrigerated for three hours so that the breading can set. Afterwards, the refrigerated fish is deep fried in hot vegetable oil until golden brown.
Bread crumbs can also be used to fry up catfish, as shown in the book "A Taste of the Murphin Ridge Inn." The author, Sherry McKeney's recipe calls for mixing 1 cup of breadcrumbs with 1 cup of cornmeal, as the base of the breading. The catfish is first seasoned with a pinch of salt and pepper, to taste, and brushed with an egg mixture that consists of two beaten eggs. Afterwards, it is coated in the breading and fried in vegetable shortening until golden on both sides. The book's recommended accoutrement to this pan-fried catfish is tartar sauce.
Corn flakes and pecans can help add to the necessary crunch factor to the healthier oven-fried catfish filets. The breading recipe demonstrated in the book "Cooking with Faith: 125 Classic and Healthy Southern Recipes" by entertainers Faith Ford, Melissa Clark and Candice Bergen, starts with 1 cup of crushed cornflakes, 1/2 cup of finely chopped pecans, 1/2 cup of cornmeal and 1/4 cup of Grape Nut cereal as its base. To season the fish, 1 1/2 tbsp. of Cajun seasoning is sprinkled generously on both sides. Then the catfish is dredged in an egg white mustard mixture (consisting of three egg whites and 1 tbsp.Dijon mustard), before being coated in the cereal mixture. Afterwards, the catfish filets are placed on a baking sheet, and popped into a 450 degree Fahrenheit oven for 15 to 20 minutes---or until golden brown. The result is crispy oven-baked catfish that can be served with tartar sauce.
- "A Taste of the Murphin Ridge Inn"; Sherry McKenney; 2004
- "Field and Stream": Deep-fried Secrets of a Catfish Joint; Field & Stream Online Editors; August 07, 2004
- "Jackson Sun": Make a feast of fish; Ellen Kimbro; May 4, 2011
- "The Day": Catfish Has a New Image; Edie Low; September 17, 1986
- "Food.com": Catfish with Cornmeal Breading; Bill From New Mexico; December 11, 2007
- "Cooking with Faith: 125 Classic and Healthy Southern Recipes"; Faith Ford, Melissa Clark, Candice Bergen; 2007
- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images
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