Quick Recipes and Easy

How to Cook Catfish

For much of my early life I had a like-despise relationship with catfish.

I would go fishing with my dad, who liked to cast a line from one of the many piers built out into the Gulf of Mexico from the shores of Louisiana, Alabama and Florida. His fellow anglers frequently reeled in catfish, which too often were left to expire on the planks of the pier, their stiff dorsal fin sticking nearly straight into the air, ready to deliver a painful sting to any barefooted kid unfortunate enough to step on it. One day, one of those unlucky barefoot kids happened to be me.

All I can remember from that misadventure is searing pain shooting through my foot and up into my leg, and being taken to a hospital emergency room. Lesson: When handling catfish–dead, alive, or dying–be very careful. (I’ve since learned that a catfish’s stinging ability lies with a particular protein that it can deliver via its fins. Right biology fact!)

On the other hand, I have to say that eating a mess of fried catfish on a huge screened porch on a soft southern night is an experience I’m dearly miss, and one that I wish I could share with my own children.

The South is the epicenter of catfish culture in the United States. Most catfish consumption takes place in this region. Traditionally, southerners bread it with cornmeal and fry it. But there are numerous other ways to prepare it, too.

Thanks to farmed catfish, this southern staple is showing up on seafood shelves in other regions, too. That’s a positive development. It’s an inexpensive food, yet one that is particularly high in protein and other nutritional goodness.

Nearly all U.S. farm-raised catfish, by the way, comes from four states: Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi. This industry employs over 13,000 people. Catfish farming is also economically vital in parts of South America and Asia.

So just what is a catfish? The name applies to an incredibly large number of different species, but they all have prominent barbels, resembling a cat’s whiskers–hence the name. Most catfish are found in freshwater habitats, though some–like the "cat" that sent me to the hospital–live in the sea. Catfish range greatly in size, too. Some are tiny, and may be kept in aquaria. Others are literally gigantic; the largest freshwater fish on record is a 646-pound Mekong giant catfish that some fishermen in Thailand somehow managed to catch.

Most of the catfish that you buy at the store will weigh between one and two pounds. This is the weight range that catfish farmers aim for in their effort to promote product consistency.

The following are some catfish recipes you might wish to try:

Catfish in Beer Batter

Ingredients

3 cups self-rising flour

2 cups beer, whichever brand you prefer

1 clove garlic, minced

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

6 catfish fillets

Cooking oilDirections

1. Combine 1 1/2 cups flour, beer, garlic, salt and black pepper in a bowl.

2. Dredge catfish fillets in the remaining flour, and then in the better made in step 1.

3. Heat cooking oil in skillet. Fry fillets in hot oil until golden.

4. Drain fillets on absorbent paper towels, and serve hot.

Tip: Make tabasco or other hot sauce available for your guests to place on the catfish, if they wish. Also, have plenty of cold beer on hand to drink!

Baked/Broiled Catfish

Ingredients

4 whole large catfish

1/2 cup tomato sauce

2 packages shredded cheddar or Mexican cheese

2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated

1 tablespoon parsley flakes

Cooking oil

Directions

1. Brush fish, inside and outside, with tomato sauce.

2. Grease a baking large baking dish. Place fish in dish and brush with a small cooking oil.

4. Sprinkle the two cheeses and the parsley flakes over the fish and bake in an oven at 350 degrees for approximately 30 minutes.

5. Turn fish over and broil close to top heat of oven for 2 minutes.

Grilled Catfish

Ingredients

6 catfish fillets

Juice of 2 lemons

1/3 cup cooking oil

1 teaspoon salt

Directions

1. Combine all ingredients (except fillets) in a casserole dish to make a marinade.

2. Place fillets in casserole dish with marinade. Let stand in refrigerator overnight.

3. Grill marinated fillets over hot coals 4 to 6 minutes per side, or until the fish flakes when pierced with a fork.

Sarah Sandori is the food and entertaining columnist for the solid-gold.info/index.html Solid Gold Info Writers Consortium. Have you ever wanted to be able to exactly duplicate a favorite dish from a favorite restaurant? Check out Sarah’s article where she reveals her source for the most mouth-watering secret restaurant recipes in America: solid-gold.info/most-wanted-recipes.html solid-gold.info/most-wanted-recipes.html

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