Deep Fried Catfish

Deep Fried Catfish

Catfish? That's not a panfish. I grew up eating sunfish, bluegills and such, really whatever Dad could catch. The closest we came to catfish were bullheads and suckers. There would be sucker runs in the spring near where we lived. As a fish, they left a lot to be desired with tiny barbed bones throughout the flesh making them difficult to eat. I didn't much care for bullheads, either. They looked like small catfish, same whiskers and skin. Yeah, skin. They had to be skinned. Dad had a flare for doing that. I never did get the hang of it. I preferred bluegills.

But now, I'm a catfish fan. There is no problem catching catfish around here. Food City sells fillets and nuggets pan ready. No cleaning needed. No fishing license required.

I have had recent experience with catfish. When I was Kitchen Manager at the Hickory Star Restaurant in 1990-1991 I learned the correct way to fry catfish. Deep fry! Mable Gayhart, a lady from the coal-mining region of East Kentucky, taught me how to do them. She had a great method. It was so simple.

We would have a fish fry every Friday night at the restaurant. There were so many orders that Patty Irwin, our cook who had a way with catfish, would take out the fryer baskets, turn up the heat and use the whole fryer so she could cook more. It was an "all-you-can-eat" fish fry and they did eat! We fried the hush puppies in the same oil, but not the French fries. They would have had a "fishy" taste, if we had. Here is Mable's recipe.

DEEP-FRIED CATFISH
1 cup buttermilk
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 cup self-rising flour
1 cup self-rising cornmeal
Catfish fillets

Mix the egg wash of buttermilk and egg in the above proportions and in the amount needed. That is 1 egg to 1 cup buttermilk. Stir well to combine. Place in a shallow bowl and set aside. In another bowl combine the self-rising flour and self-rising cornmeal. Stir to combine. Dip the catfish fillets in the egg wash, then in the flour mixture. Be sure all surfaces of the fillet are well covered. Fry in deep fat, at 375 F until fish is golden. Note: Make both the egg wash and the breading in the above proportions as needed. It is the best breading ever! Serve with hush puppies and tartar sauce.

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