Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Southern Fried Catfish

Catfish has long been a staple, and considered “poor people food” here in the South. It has been gaining popularity with chefs around the country as a versatile and flavorful protein. This is a basic fried fish recipe that will work for any fish.
The masa is finer than corn meal and so eliminates the need for mixing flour with it. This gives you a stronger corn taste. If you would like a lighter corn taste, mix it with flour, a half and half mixture. (2 cups flour, 2 cups masa). Kroger in Tullahoma recently had their colossal catfish fillets for $2.99 a pound. They are huge fillets, weighing in at about 1 pound apiece. You will need to cut them into smaller serving pieces and that will fit into your pot or fryer.

  • 1 pound of catfish filets
  • salt
  • pepper
  • garlic powder
  • red pepper sauce (Tabasco, optional)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 cups masa de harina (Maseca)
  • oil for deep frying, preferably peanut

In a large, heavy 5 quart pot ( a cast iron dutch oven works best), heat the oil to a 350 degrees, using a deep frying thermometer. Adjust the your heat to maintain the temperature.
Sprinkle the fillets with the salt, pepper and garlic powder. Pour the milk into a shallow dish, big enough to accommodate the fillets. Stir in the red pepper sauce if you are using it. Put the masa in a separate shallow dish. Dredge the fillets in the masa, then milk then back into the masa. Set on a cooling rack for 5 minutes to rest.
Carefully and gently add the fillets to the hot oil. Don't crowd the pot or the temperature of the oil will drop to much and you will have greasy fish. Fry the fish until it is golden brown, about 5-6 minutes. Remove to a cooling rack placed over a sheet pan lined with paper towels. Do this with the rest of the fish. Serve immediately with either a seafood cocktail sauce or tartar sauce.