Believe it or not, this main dish cost me just under $5 to put together and my whole family loved it. Let’s just say that catfish in mid-Missouri is not hard to come by. I don’t fry foods very often, so this Pan-Fried Catfish was quite the treat for my crew. I served it with some Roasted Vegetables and berries.
The cornmeal and whole wheat flour mix creates a delicious (and fiber-rich!) crust that is kicked up with Old Bay Seasoning, giving it that bayou flavor. There are a few other keys to making this pan-fried catfish a smash:
1 – Add flavor at every step. Season the catfish well with salt and pepper and then season each part of the dredging/breading process.
2 – Make sure the oil is the right temperature and keep it there. If it’s not hot enough you’ll have mushy, oily fish. If it’s too hot, you’ll burn the outside before the inside is done. I highly suggest using Avocado Oil for frying, because it has a high smoke point and is healthier than vegetable oil.
3 – Serve with a squeeze of lemon on top and with your favorite dipping sauce. We have the perfect sauce recipe for this catfish called Creamy Herb Dipping Sauce in our cookbook (releases September 12 but available for pre-order now). My kids just prefer plain ole ketchup.
4. Make sure all the skin and the dark fatty tissue under the skin is removed. I bet if you ask nicely, the butcher in your grocery store would do this nasty little job for you. 🙂
I haven’t tested these in the freezer yet, but from prior fish-freezing experience, I think you could certainly bread these, flash freeze them (set on a sheet pan and freeze until solid), and store in a freezer container. Then, you would just thaw them on a baking rack over a sheet pan in the fridge overnight (covered with plastic wrap). If anyone tries this, let me know if you have any other freezing tips.
Onward to the recipe!Print
- 1 cup white whole wheat flour or unbleached all-purposed flour, divided
- 1/2 cup fine cornmeal
- salt and pepper
- 1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning (or more to your preference)
- 2 large eggs
- avocado oil (or another oil for frying)
- 1 1/2 pounds catfish “nuggets” or filets cut into smaller pieces, skin and dark fatty tisue under the skin removed (ask butcher to do this)
- lemon wedges and/or your favorite seafood dipping sauce
- Set a wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet.
- Place 1/2 cup flour and the cornmeal in a shallow dish. Add 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, and the Old Bay Seasoning. Whisk until combined.
- In a second shallow bowl, whisk the eggs with a splash of water. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
- In a third dish, add the other 1/2 cup of flour. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
- Dry the catfish “nuggets” or filets with a paper towel. Season lightly with salt and pepper on both sides. Dredge the catfish on both sides in the flour, then the eggs, and finally coat with the cornmeal mixture on both sides. Lay on the wire rack.
- In a large heavy-bottomed Dutch oven (this will help avoid splatters, but you can use a large pan), heat enough oil to cover the bottom about a 1/2 inch high. The oil is ready when it reaches 400°F or when you drop some of the cornmeal mix in and it sizzles right away. The oil should not smoke, but it will come close.
- Using tongs, place catfish filets in the bottom in batches, making sure they do not touch. Pan fry for 1 1/2 – 2 minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Set on a plate that is lined with paper towels. Add more oil in between batches as needed.
- Serve immediately* with a squeeze of lemon and your favorite dipping sauce.
- *To keep catfish warm in between batches, you can put it on a sheet pan in a 200° oven.