Who’s up for a fish fry??
Now, you know me — I’m a Southern California girl, born and raised — but Dustin spent many of his formative years in Dallas, Texas. To say this Texas upbringing formed his appetite for Southern food would be an understatement. The man certainly enjoys his fried okra, beef brisket, chicken fried chicken, banana pudding and Dr. Pepper (oh, how he loves his Dr. Pepper!).
And then there’s his love for fried catfish.
Well, as you can probably imagine, I tend to get Dustin’s input for what recipes I should try out for my blog. For probably the past six months or so, one of Dustin’s usual suggestions has included fried catfish. He just loves the stuff.
I finally decided to take him up on his suggestion and try my hand at it. Not being a Southern girl, I had to do some research.
It seemed to me that, to make some good ‘ol Southern Fried Catfish, you need to soak the catfish fillets in buttermilk, add some heat with cayenne pepper and other spices and then coat the fish with a mixture of cornmeal and flour.
And, of course, fry it. ‘Cuz that’s what you do in the South. Sounded easy enough to me.
And it was! The fish turned out great. Light and crispy. Moist and delicate. The heat and flavors in the cornmeal coating were just the right amount to also let you appreciate the subtle flavor of the fresh catfish. I added a generous twist of fresh lemon to my fish, but Dustin enjoyed his plain. This will definitely be a meal we will rely on in the future.
But, more importantly, I made my hubby happy.
Southern Fried Catfish
3-4 catfish fillets (about 1 pound)
kosher salt, to coat fillets
ground black pepper, to coat fillets
3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 cup buttermilk
vegetable oil, to coat fry pan 1/4-inch deep
optional: lemon wedges, for garnish
Rinse catfish fillets and pat dry with a paper towel. If you prefer to have smaller pieces, you can cut the catfish into strips. Lay catfish in a shallow dish and cover with buttermilk. Season generously with kosher salt and ground black pepper. Let sit for 10-15 minutes, flipping and seasoning the other side after 5-8 minutes.
Combine cornmeal, flour, garlic powder and cayenne pepper in another shallow dish.
In a large skillet, pour enough vegetable oil to cover about 1/4-inch. Heat oil to almost-high heat. You will know when the oil is ready when a very, very small amount of water tossed into the pan sizzles and dances.
Using a fork, tongs or your hands, take one fillet (or strip, if preferred) and allow the buttermilk to drain back into the dish. Transfer fillet to the cornmeal mixture and coat thoroughly. Shake off excess cornmeal mixture and carefully place fish into the hot oil. Fry until golden brown, about 3-6 minutes per side, depending on the size of fillet or strip. Careful not to crowd the fish in the pan. Once golden-brown on each side, carefully remove and place on a plate lined with paper towels and drain. Take care to handle the fish tenderly, as the fish will be very tender and may try to fall apart and/or separate from the fried cornmeal coating. I found it best to use a slotted spatula at this point to keep the fish from tearing. Season with salt or pepper as needed.
Serve with a lemon wedge as desired.