In the South, nearly everyone knows how to fry catfish – and for good reason! Catfish is mild in taste and full of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, making it a smart choice to satisfy the American Heart Association’s recommendation to eat two servings of fatty fish per week. It’s also approved by the EPA as one of five commonly eaten fish that is low in mercury. Whether you decide to go the healthier oven-fried route, or you indulge a bit of pan-fried decadence, you’ll be frying catfish like a natural in no time with these two delicious recipes.
To fry catfish you’ll need:
- 4 6oz catfish fillets
- Vegetable or corn oil
- 2 eggs
- ¾ cup dry bread crumbs or finely crushed crackers (like Saltines)
- ½ cup cornmeal
- 1 tsp salt
- Salt and pepper
- Seasoning salt, Garlic salt, or Cajun seasoning (optional)
- A frying pan or an ovenproof baking pan
- Paper towels
- Decide how you want to fry your catfish and prepare your pan. Catfish can be pan-fried or oven-fried, depending upon your preference. For pan-fried catfish, get a frying pan or skillet large enough to accommodate four fillets and add about ½ inch of oil. For oven-friend catfish, brush a large baking pan with 2 Tablespoons of oil, keeping 2 additional Tablespoons on hand.
- Before you begin frying your catfish, prepare your fillets by running them under cold water. Pat the fish dry with paper towels and then sprinkle each side of each fillet with salt and pepper, along with any optional seasoning of your choice.
- In a shallow bowl, beat two eggs. Set them aside.
- In a re-sealable plastic bag, make your crumb mixture. Combine ½ cup cornmeal with ¾ cup bread crumbs or cracker crumbs and 1 tsp salt, then seal the bag and give it a few good shakes to combine the mixture.
- Turn on the heat. If you’re pan-frying catfish, turn the heat on at a medium high level and heat the oil until it’s hot, but not smoking. Be careful, as hot oil may pop or spatter. If you’re making oven-fried catfish, heat the oven to 500°F and put the rack in the middle.
- Prepare your fried catfish by dipping each piece into the eggs, letting the excess drip off. Then place each fillet, one at a time, into the resealable bag and gentle shake it until it’s well-coated well with the crumb mixture.
- Fry your catfish. For pan-fried catfish, carefully place your fillets into the pan with hot oil. The oil will sizzle as the fish begins to fry, so watch out for hot splatters. Fry the fish for about 4 minutes, until it is crisp and browned on the bottom. Carefully turn each fillet over and fry the other side. When it’s finished, drain the fillets on paper towels. For oven-friend catfish, put all four pieces of fish in your prepared baking pan and bake for about 6 minutes until the undersides are golden. Drizzle the fillets with 2 more Tablespoons of oil, then carefully turn each piece over and bake until it’s cooked through and golden.