Fried Catfish

When I was a kid, up until the age of 13 or so, on Good Friday during lent, my family would pack the vehicles with tons of refreshments, softball & fishing equipment, burners, pots, & hearts filled with excitement, joy, & love. We would set out for Krotz Springs, Louisiana for a day of picnicking under Highway 190 East. Since there was no guarantee that fish were biting, a sufficient amount of Choupic (Mudfish) & Catfish were brought along to feed the family. The Choupic was usually stuffed & cooked in a huge Sauce Picante’ (tomato gravy) & the catfish was cut up in small fillets, fried & served as appetizers until the Choupic was ready to be served. When it comes to fried fish, small sized Catfish is by far my favorite. Here’s the most simple fish frying recipe anyone can follow for delicious fried catfish or fish of your choice, recipe would only need to be adjusted according to size or species at times, such as salt water fish.

Ingredients to feed 7-10 people, this is referred to as a “dry batter” recipe:

  1. 3 lbs FRESH, HEAVILY SEASONED, filleted catfish, (BE CAREFUL WHEN USING CREOLE SEASONING DUE TO SOMETIMES SALTY). Using small fillets for frying is always best: I PREFER TO SEASON MY CATFISH USING SEASONING SEPARATELY, USING SALT, GARLIC POWDER, ONION POWDER, BLACK & CAYENNE PEPPER, etc. I SEASON MY FILLETS AT LEAST 24 hrs AHEAD OF TIME, UNLESS IT IS DONE UNEXPECTEDLY, HEAVY ON THE PEPPER & I STORE IN FRIDGE TIGHTLY SEALED. NOTE: I cut my fillets in strips long ways, if you have ever fried fillets & it folds together, that is why I cut it long ways, the fillets stay straight.
  2. Your favorite boxed fish fry: DO NOT USE SEASONED FISH FRY, MAKE SURE IT IS UNSEASONED, YOUR FISH WILL BE TOO SALTY IF YOU DO NOT USE UNSEASONED FISH FRY. I prefer a fish fry with lemon in the fry.
  3. A good heavy frying oil if you have a lot to fry, hog lard is my personal favorite but vegetable oil does a good job if heat was monitored & only a small batch is to be prepared. Use enough oil to where your fish can submerge in oil, deep fry.
  4. Large onion cut onion ring style.
  5. Lemon if desired.

Prep:

  1. In a large bowl, batter catfish with fish fry, you do not have to do all at one time, batter each fillet well, shaking off excess before dropping in oil.
  2. In a heavy gauge stainless steel pot, heat oil to 340 degrees. Always use a quality frying thermometer for absolute best results.
  3. Once oil has reached desired temp of 340 degrees, carefully drop fillets in oil one at a time, do not crowd pot with too many at a time, this will cause the heat to take too long to come back to desired temp, obviously your oil temp will drop at first but will come back up quickly, monitor heat closely.
  4. Fry 3-4 minutes on each size, it is up to you how dry or moist you prefer. If you like dryer fish, fry a little longer on each side. Also, cook time & heat is determined by size of fillets fried.
  5. After fish floating in oil freely, remove fillets from oil onto surface that can absorb oil, pan with paper towel works well.
  6. Place raw onion rings on top of hot fillets & squeeze lemon juice on top as well if desired.
  7. Let sit 3-5 minutes before serving.
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