Probably one of the hallmarks of Southern culture has to be the catfish fry. Everyone has pretty much agreed for a few decades now exactly how catfish should be prepared, and the verdict seems to be: fried in a cornmeal batter. But how about other ways of preparing the southerner's tuna? Here are a couple of recipes to help break up a little of the monotony—or at the very least get the neighbors talking!
Southern Pecan Fried Catfish
This one will leave some people scratching their heads as they ask "What is that flavor?" You'll know, and it's up to you as to whether or not to tell them!
Catfish fillets (skinless and boneless)
Cooking oil for frying
1/3 cup yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup pecans
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
Combine cornmeal, salt, and pepper into a flat container, such as a pie pan or shallow bowl. Grind pecans in a food processor until nuts are finely ground. Add to the cornmeal mixture. Combine 2 cups of cold water with 1 TBS of salt in a large bowl. Dip catfish in the water salt mixture and shake off access water. Do not pat off water. Roll wet catfish in the cornmeal mixture and pat the cornmeal onto the wet catfish. Once the fish is thoroughly coated, drop it into your preheated fryer.
Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat or in your favorite "fry Daddy". Cook 2 fish fillets until golden brown and firm to the touch, 4 to 5 minutes per side. In a fryer, cook until the fish begins to "float" or when it makes a clicking sound in the basket. About 4 - 6 minutes at 350 degrees F. For a change, you can do this recipe with peanuts or walnuts as well, though pecans are particularly "southern".
Baked Catfish (Low Fat)
Here is an easy alternative to frying up the catfish. For those on a diet or out to avoid fatty or even greasy food, this recipe is a real winner. This same technique could be used with the recipe above, but that would be just plain boring!
4 lbs catfish fillets (skinless and boneless)
1 1/2 cup low fat buttermilk
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp hot pepper sauce
6 oz whole wheat crackers (crushed)
4 tbsp margarine (melted)
Mix buttermilk with salt and hot pepper sauce in a shallow dish. Place the cracker crumbs in a separate shallow plate. Dip catfish in milk mixture and shake off excess buttermilk. Roll in cracker crumbs. Place in a non-stick baking dish or a dish that has been sprayed with oil. Drizzle the tops of the fillets with melted margarine. Bake at 400 for 15 to 20 minutes, until fish flakes with a fork.
Everyone loves "catfish night" and a fish fry up is always a lot of fun whether you are entertaining friends or having an old-fashioned family night. Try out either of these recipes to mix things up a little bit at your next fry (or bake) get together.
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