Good Eats: Southern Fried Catfish Recipe
Being on the edge of Lake Superior gives way to freshwater food options. Fishing spots all along the Northshore make for a great way to get larger lake fish on your plate. While we do have the largest fresh body of water right in our backyard, Lake Superior, t's not a bad idea to look inward to our rivers and smaller lakes for an overlooked delicacy: catfish.
Yes, catfish that muddy, slimy, whiskered bottom dweller that spends all day eating garbage from the bottom of the lakes can become a tasty dish with a variety of amazing compliments. Of course, the first thing you have to do is to catch them.
When looking for catfish, try to look near deep and muddy waters. Catfish love to stay hidden towards the bottom of whatever body of water you're in, so also be sure to check near fallen trees and heavily weeded areas. Catfish are typically are more active in the evening, so some late-night fishing might come in handy. As far as fishing technique goes, catfish are not overly difficult to catch.
They prefer bait that has an odor to it, so try to use worms, chopped baitfish, or artificially scented bait. The most tricky part about catching a catfish is their inconsistent strike pattern. Sometimes they hit hard and fast, other times, they test their food before striking. The best thing to do is to set the hook if you're not entirely sure they're on. Catfish don't like resistance from their food, so let the line go limp and once it starts unraveling, set it. Make sure you have a pair of pliers ready because they do swallow their food.
Now that you have your prize and have filleted the fish, you can get into cooking it. Catfish has been a southern staple in cuisine for hundreds of years. The recipe we're going to focusing on today is southern fried catfish; this is a super simple and delicious recipe that highlights the flavor of the filet perfectly.
First, pour 1 cup of buttermilk into a large pan and add your catfish fillets. Flip the fillets over and let them marinate. In a medium bowl, combine 2-parts cornmeal and 1-part flour (as much to have enough for your filets). Add salt, pepper, and any seasonings of your choice. Cajun seasoning makes for a great traditional southern fried catfish, but again, use whatever you prefer.
Add your marinated fillets to the mixture and coat evenly. In a fryer, heat 1 quart of vegetable oil on medium-high. Once brought up to temperature, drop fillets in and cook until golden brown. This step will take around 3-4 minutes. Keep in mind if the oil is not sizzling when you put your filets in, the oil is not hot enough.
Remove from the oil, pat dry any excess oil from your filets with a paper towel and serve with a side of homemade fries and coleslaw for a traditional southern fried catfish meal.
Happy frying, friends!