Growing up in a household with southern roots, fried fish is one of those sacred recipes that is never to be touched. It has been, is and always will be made the same way as your great grandmother made it.
Luckily, I got my great grandmother’s fried fish, fried chicken, fried bread…fried everything recipes during a summer crash course in Littleton, NC. The thing with a town that small in rural North Carolina is, if you don’t cook, you don’t have anything to do.
So I cooked and I studied and I burnt myself and I laughed and I fished for my own Catfish in a creek. My previous experience with which amounted to the magnetic fishing game below.
I had a wooden rod, string, a safety pin and a cricket that my Great Grandma Dell had to hook because I was too squeamish. When we would return from our fishing trips (she caught about 20 and I hooked 4…maybe) I would take a tick bath and then get to work in the kitchen.
You would think that I am talking about some distant time between 1901 and 1955, but I am only 30! This was literally 1991 and 9-year old me learned to fry a catfish like a seasoned pro.
Today, most of our Catfish is farm-raised or aquacultured and has become one of the most sustainable and eco-friendly fish that we eat. Due to special programs that include free-flowing waters and diet regulation, these former bottom feeders have risen to the top of cleanliness and deliciousness in the past few years.
So here’s to a good old recipe using the modern catfish!
- 1 cup Cornmeal
- 2 tsp Cayenne Pepper
- 2 tsp Paprika
- 2 tsp Coarse Ground Black Pepper
- 1 tsp Onion Powder
- 1/4 cup Dijon Mustard
- 3/4 cup Buttermilk
- 4 Catfish Fillets
- 1/4 cup EVOO
- 2 Tbsp Butter
- 4 Tbsp Green Onion
- Small Slice Lemon Slices (optional)
Mix Cornmeal with Cayenne Pepper, Paprika, Ground Pepper and Onion Powder. Sift on to a large plate and set aside. In a wide bowl, whisk together Dijon Mustard and Buttermilk.
With one hand (wet hand) dip Catfish Fillets in the Milk mixture and lay flat on the Cornmeal mixture. With the other hand (dry hand) dust top of fish with the dry mix until covered. Remove fillet and shake off all excess. Repeat with each fish fillet.
Heat large pan with 1/8 cup Olive Oil to medium high heat. Add 1 Tbsp Butter and lay two fillets in pan. Fry for minutes per side. Drain pan into hot oil safe container and repeat with remaining fillets.
Serve with over Rice Pilaf with diced and pan softened celery, peppers and onions. Top with Green Onion and garnish with Lemon Slices.
For Rice: Prepare Rice Pilaf using box directions and add sauteed Celery (small dice), Red Bell Peppers (small dice) and Yellow Onion (small dice)
For an additional recipe check out this video on How to Prepare Catfish Fillets: