Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Making the Perfect Fried Catfish

 

So trust me, fried catfish was a frequent meal at our house…(as well as all sorts of “critters” that you can’t find in your local grocery store)

If we weren’t eating fried fish, we were instead munching down on some good Southern fried chicken and drinking sweet tea.

Although there is much debate as to how catfish should be prepared–such as using a batter, breading with cornmeal, or simply dipping it in flour….I have found that the best way to prepare perfect catfish is to fry it in a cornmeal crush.

So let’s learn the basics of making the perfect fried catfish.

 

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Ingredients

 

1-2# catfish—about.4-6 filets

1C milk or buttermilk

1C cornmeal…Use fine, white cornmeal if you can find it….if you can’t find it fin the store, use regular cornmeal with a little flourk added to it so that the crust doesn’t taste gritty.

1/2C flour

Seasoning…you can use whatever makes you smile and keeps you wanting more and more fish—such as Lawry’s to Zatarain’s, Old Bay or lemon pepper— but a good mixture would be…

  • 1tsp garlic powder
  • 1tsp pepper
  • 1tsp paprika
  • 1/2tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1Tbsp salt
    1tsp pepper
  • Cooking oil, preferably peanut oil

 

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Getting Ready 

Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.

Lay a wire rack sitting on a cookie sheet inside the oven.

Heat oil in a large pot or deep fryer to 350 degrees F.  Make sure that your oil is hot enough…if not you will end up with soggy, greasy catfish.

 

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Preparing the Catfish

Rinse the catfish fillets under cold water.

Dry thoroughly with paper towels.  

Soak catfish in milk or buttermilk for about an hour. This will wash away the muddy flavor.

 

 

 

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Breading the Cztfish

Combine cornmeal, salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper.

Dredge each filet in the breading until it is coat evenly.

Place on a large platter to dry for about five minutes.

 

 

 

 

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Cooking the Catfish

Now add the breaded catfish to the hot oil. Be careful not to crowd the fryer…otherwise the the oil temperature will drop too much. The oil is ready whenever you drop a little of the dry breading mix into the oi, and if it sizzles at once.

Make sure that there is enough peanut oil to completely cover catfish fillets while frying.

Cook 7min per side…until golden brown.

Watch the temperature of the oil as you continue frying the filets. If the temperature gets too hot, you may need to lower the heat on the burner.

Keep cooked fillets warm in oven while you finish cooking the rest of the fish. This will help keep it crispy.

Place the cooked filets on paper towels to drain.

 

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Pan-Frying 101

 

2. Brining the Chicken…Typically when I frychicken, I cook approximately 3-3 1/2 pounds of chicken pieces….So let’s get started…
Soaking your chicken in some sort of brine will help the breading stick to the food better…and add moisture and flavor. Once you prepare the brine, simply add the chicken to the liquid and stick in the fridge at least thirty minutes, and even overnight.

 

4. Heating Your Oil…When frying chicken, it is important that the oil can be heated to a high temperature without burning. Peanut, canola or vegetable oil are your best options…Avoid using olive oil or butter.

 

 

 

5. Cooking Your Chicken…Gently place your breaded chicken skin side-down in your heated pan, being sure not to overcrowd the pan.

Replace the lid onto the pan. Cook the chicken about ten minutes, using your tongs to turn the chicken a few times while it cooks.

Remove the lid. Cook ten minutes more, uncovered…until the chicken is cooked through and the outside is a deep golden brown.

 

If you are using a probe thermometer to monitor the internal temperature of the chicken, the magic number is 165 degrees.

Remember to bring the oil back up to 350 degrees before you add the next batch of chicken.

 

 

 

Once your chicken has finished frying, place the hot chicken on a wire rack set on top of a baking sheet. Sprinkle with a little salt for extra flavor.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

 

 

When done well, you should end up with a hallmark of great fried chicken—perfectly tender meat with plenty of that crunchy, dark brown crust that all of us Southerners so adore.