Gods gift to Southerners, The catfish!


Reprinted from my book, Mawmaws recollections, observations and recipes. Free pdf download.

Did I mention fried Catfish yet? Nothin’s faster to make nor more delicious, I can smell it now!

Now I understand that many people think of catfish as a dirty ‘ol bottom feeding fish fit only for those who couldn’t afford (or catch) a Trout or Perch. The thing was, yes, it’s a bottom feeder, but y’all have to realize that most our streams an rivers back then was as clean as your tap water is today. Maybe I shouldn’t a said that, I hear there’s some pretty questionable tap water in some places. Anyway, it weren’t no Carp an besides most all Catfish today is farm raised anyway. I can’t understand why anyone would eat Talapia and not a Catfish. Talapi is raised to ‘clean up fish farm pods after Catfish,Trout, Salmon and other expensive fish foul it up with their poo. After the fish are harvested, Talapia are put in and ain’t fed, they eat the other fishes poo till the ponds clean, then they’re harvested!

As far as Catfish goes though, Northern or Southern, once bitten into, everyone agrees it’s dang good!

I always said that if you was able to starve in the South, then you must either have a bunch a marbles rollin’ round inside your head or you’s just plain too lazy to reach your hand out ten feet to get some edible substances. Remember Euell Gibbons? He wrote that book “Stalking the wild asparagus” in the early ’60’s. I still got my copy, still read it from time to time. He come through here one time asking folks for their recipes but he only wanted the ones made from local plants and nuts. Nice man from what I’s told. I hear tell he up an died of a stomach ailment. Ha! Must a been sumpin’ he ate!

Anyway, he showed how much food there really is around us all. We just have to recognize it. I assume the French an’ their uppity snails fit in there somewhere’s but God knows where. Catfish on the other hand is natures answer to those too clumsy to fish proper or for those bordering on being a vegetarian. It takes no skill to catch a Catfish. It takes more skill not too! An even if you’re not prone to eatin meat, why one look at a Catfish an you’d realize they’s so ugly they deserve to be eaten!

But, seeing them golden brown fillets sizlin’ in a iron skillit an having that delicious smell hit you smack in the nose makes you want to put an extra five in the collection plate to thank God for his gift of the Catfish.

Speaking of how easy they is to catch, I once caught one with my shoe! I was a youngster splashin’ in the pond near the house with my friends. I had my shoes up on a limb that over hung the shore a bit. One of ’em fell off, bounced on the ground and plopped itself right into the waters edge. Well, I walk on over and reached on down for my shoe. When I grabbed hold of it, my shoe tugged back at me! Frightened me to death! I screamed an not thinking yanked that ‘ol shoe up an outa the water in kind of a panic reaction sort a way. Out flew my shoe…with a big ‘ol catfish still trying to eat one a the tie strings on it. I got on outa’ there ’cause everyone told me how Catfish would sting ya up good if you touched ’em. I never did find out the truth in that.

Golden Pan Fried ‘Southern’ Catfish

“ If you say you can’t eat a Catfish because they’s so ugly, then why in tarnation would you eat rump roast!”

4-6 catfish fillets

¾ cup corn meal

¼ cup flour

¼ teaspoon of salt

½ cup milk

2 eggs, beaten

1/8 teaspoon of red pepper sauce

2 Tablespoons of oil

Preheat deep fryer or 5 qt sauce pan filled with 2 inches of oil in it to 375 degrees. Any hotter an you’ll burn and smoke up your oil.

Preheat oven to 275 to place fish in after frying to keep hot.

Rinse fish in water and towel dry.

Mix cornmeal, flour, and salt in a large bowl. Stir in milk, beaten eggs, pepper sauce and 2 Tbl oil until well blended.

Coat fish with cornmeal batter, shaking off any excess.

Fry two fillets at a time until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Keep fried fish warm by placing on a cookie sheet in the oven until all are cooked.

Broiled Catfish Fillets

(A healthier alternative than fried Catfish)

4 catfish fillets

1/2 teaspoon of garlic salt

1/2 teaspoon of lemon pepper

Lemon wedges for garnish on each plate

Sprinkle fillets with garlic salt and lemon pepper. Preheat broiler pan for 5 minutes. Coat with shortening spray. Place catfish fillets on broiler pan. Broil 3 inches from heat for 4-6 minutes until catfish flakes easily. Put some garnish like lemon wedges and stuff around them on a plate.

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