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Spice of Life: Fried catfish a Southern staple

Last Modified: Tuesday, February 12, 2013 5:29 PM

By Eric Cormier / American Press

Fried catfish is as much a part of southern gastronomic culture as boudin is to south Louisiana.

Minus the unofficial argument over rather or not catfish qualifies as seafood — yes, some foodies debate that labeling — nothing forged out of southern rivers and bayous ends up on so many tables as the catfish.

It can be a bit discouraging to meet people who reside in our neck of the country who do not consider catfish worthy of being eaten.

Personally, catfish is one of my top five fish to eat with grouper, red snapper, red fish and speckled trout rounding out my list.

NBC weatherman Willard Scott once said that “If I go down in for anything in history, I would like to be known as the person who convinced the American people that catfish is one of the finest eating fishes in the world.”

I know hordes of southerners who agree with Scott’s conviction towards catfish.

Catfish is eaten year round but it takes on more importance for many readers leading up to Easter.

What follows is a southern tried and true fried catfish recipe that I encourage you to enjoy and tempt the unappreciative sorts who turn their noses up to catfish.

Sprinkle some hot sauce on the fried catfish for good measure.

Southern Fried Catfish


2-3 pounds of catfish fillets, cut into strips

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

Cajun seasoning, to taste

1/2 cup self rising flour

2 cups of yellow cornmeal

Canola oil for frying

Hot sauce, for the table


Rinse the fillets and pat dry. Cut into half crosswise and then cut each fillet into three to four strips lengthwise. Season fish on both sides with salt, pepper and Cajun seasoning. Preheat the fryer to 375 degrees and let the fillets rest while the fryer heats up.

Whisk the flour and cornmeal together in a large bowl until well blended. Dip the catfish fillets in the mixture until well coated, shake off any excess and set aside. Once the oil is heated up, drop the fillets into the fryer with the basket lowered, but only a few at a time so as not to overcrowd them. Fry for about 4 to 6 minutes, or until fish floats and is golden brown.

Drain fish on several layers of paper towels before transferring to a platter of individual plates. Serve with hot sauce at the table for spindling on the fillets.

Cook’s note: Can also use a deep, heavy bottomed pot or large iron skillet and enough vegetable or Canola oil to fully cover the fillets.


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Eric Cormier writes about food every Wednesday. Contact him at or 494-4090.

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