Fried Catfish, Southern Style

Fried catfish is on the menu on today’s episode of The Sporting Chef. It is so good, I made it for myself and my family twice last week.

fried catfish on cooking rack over baking sheet in foreground, kitchen in background

In the South, we love fried seafood with two traditional side dishes: crunchy hush puppies and creamy coleslaw. No fish says “Southern” quite like catfish, especially if it has a cornmeal crust with plenty of seasoning: cayenne, black pepper, garlic, and salt.

In this southern fried catfish recipe, you will be dipping catfish fillets or whole fish in three different mixtures on three different plates or shallow dishes.

First, you dredge the fish in all-purpose flour and spices. Then you dip it in the egg mixture and then the cornmeal mixture. Finally, you will deep fry a few pieces at a time in batches in a deep fryer or Dutch oven until golden brown.

After frying, set the fish fillets on a wire rack over a baking sheet to cool as shown in the picture. If you like, you can gently pat off excess oil with a paper towel.

Fried fish is tasty with lemon wedges, hot sauce, tartar sauce, and/or a remoulade sauce like the one with my crab cakes recipe.

Easy and delicious! If you do have leftovers, store them in the fridge, in an airtight container.

fried catfish cooling on a wire rack over cookie sheet on wooden kitchen counter

Also be sure to check out my Basic Fish Fry Recipe.

Wait, aren’t catfish bottom feeders?!

Some people are afraid that fresh catfish will have a muddy taste because they are bottom feeders — in short, dirt eaters. But that isn’t necessarily true! You can get freshwater catfish, too, or farmed catfish from dirt-free tanks. We love the catfish from the pond on our land.

What is the best oil to fry catfish in?

The temperature of the oil needs to be high to get a crispy crust on the outside while keeping the fish moist and flaky on the inside. Good oils for high heat cooking include peanut oil and canola oil. Basically, any oil that has a high smoke point is fine for fried catfish.

fried catfish cooling on a wire rack over cookie sheet on wooden kitchen counter

Fried Catfish

5 from 1 vote
Course Main Course
Cuisine American

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon granulated garlic
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper
  • 4 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 8 ounces filleted catfish or 4 whole fish

Instructions
 

  • Preheat a deep fryer to 375 degrees, or heat oil in a Dutch oven to 375 degrees.
  • On a large plate or in a bread pan, add flour, 1 tablespoon salt, 1 teaspoon of pepper, and 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper. Mix well.
  • On another plate or bread pan, combine 2 tablespoons of water with the eggs and mix until frothy.
  • On another plate or bread pan, mix cornmeal, garlic powder, the remaining 1 teaspoon of cayenne and black pepper, and the remaining 3 tablespoons of salt.
  • Dip fish into the flour, then the egg mixture, then the cornmeal mixture. Place on a cooling rack until you are ready to fry. Repeat steps with the remaining fish.
  • Deep fry the fish in the fryer or Dutch oven a few pieces at a time. Fry until brown and crispy, about 3 to 4 minutes or more depending on the size.
  • Remove from the fryer and place onto a cooling rack. Repeat until all the fish are fried and serve with lemons, hot sauce, and my zesty homemade fish sauce.
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