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Best Southern Fried Catfish recipe. Ever wonder what catfish tastes like? If you’re not from the Eastern Shore, you might not be familiar with the dish. This strange-looking but delicious fish is served deep-fried or pan-fried but can also be grilled.
Catfish has a unique taste, and there are two distinct types to choose from.
If you are shopping for catfish from your local supermarket you will typically see farm-raised and wild catfish.
Farm-raised and wild-caught catfish taste very different from each other.
Most wild fish taste better than their farm-raised counterparts. However, wild catfish are bottom dwellers. Ok, a scavenger is probably a more accurate description.
Because of the difference in their diet, farm-raised catfish tend to taste better or less muddy than their native counterparts.
What you’ll need to cook this “Best Southern Fried Catfish Recipe”
Best catfish for fish fry – wild caught vs farm-raised fish
Fish in the wild eat a natural diet and tend to be slightly lower in saturated fat than farm-raised varieties. Farmed fish can be slightly higher in omega-3 fatty acids, presumably due to the farms’ fortified feed.
Source – Pros and Cons of Wild Caught Fish.
Why is peanut oil good for frying?
One of the main reasons peanut oil is used as frying oil is because of its high smoke point. Peanut oil is more stable than many other ordinary vegetable oils, such as regular soybean oil, due to its considerably larger saturated fatty acid concentration.
- 4-6 catfish fillets, about 1-2 pounds
- 1 cup milk or buttermilk
- 3/4 cup fine cornmeal (do not use coarsely ground cornmeal)
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
- 1/4 teaspoon celery seed
- Oil for frying (use peanut oil if you can)
- Heat oil in pan, heat warming oven: In a heavy frying pan (I prefer to use cast iron), pour enough oil to come 1/2 inch up the sides of the pan. Heat the pan on medium-high.
Heat your oven to 200°F and lay a cookie sheet inside. Place a wire rack on top of the cookie sheet.
2. Soak catfish in milk or buttermilk: While the oil is heating, soak the catfish in the milk or buttermilk.
3. Mix together cornmeal, flour, and spices for dredging: Mix the cornmeal, flour, and spices together. (Or you can substitute your favorite seasoning instead.) Place in a shallow dish for dredging.
4. Dredge fillets in flour mixture, then fry in hot oil: Let the oil reach 350°F — a good test is to flick a little of the dry breading into the oil, and if it sizzles at once, you’re good to go.
Once the oil is hot, sprinkle the catfish fillets with salt and dredge them into the breading. Shake off the excess and gently lay into the hot oil.
Fry until golden brown, about 2-4 minutes, depending on how thick the fillet is. Use a metal spatula and gently turn the fish over and cook for another 2-4 minutes.
Cast iron heats up and stays hot, so monitor the heat as you fry; you may need to lower the heat on the burner at some point.
5. Keep cooked fillets warm in the oven: Once the fish is ready, move it to the oven while you cook the rest of the catfish. Keeping the fried catfish warm in the oven will help keep it crispy.
When they’re all done, serve at once with your favorite hot sauce, coleslaw, and some hush puppies.
Go back to our main recipe page for more Eastern Shore recipes!