Crazy for Catfish

Once maligned as a bottom feeder, catfish has emerged as a popular entrée. It’s farmed in the U.S.A. and is sustainable, unlike many farmed varieties of fish. Catfish is a bottom feeder, true, but it does well in crowded ponds. If you’re interested in eating sustainable foods but you’re on a budget, you’re in luck. Catfish is affordable, tasty, and sturdy. It stands up well to a variety of cooking methods. We eat it blackened, baked, pan fried, steamed, even deep fried occasionally. (A word of caution: wild caught catfish can taste strong and fishy, so stick with farm raised.)

Catfish is on sale this week, so I bought two small fillets. It’s important to buy only what you’ll use within 24 hours. Fresh fish is best, but frozen catfish is very good. Just be sure it’s raised in the U.S.A. Asian catfish is a different species, and it’s not as tasty. Also, because catfish is a bottom feeder, you want to be extra careful of its source. You’ll find raised-in-USA frozen catfish fillets even at the big box stores. It’s convenient to have fish on hand in your freezer.

Today I’m pan frying it. It’s not difficult but it is tasty! No wonder it’s a Southern favorite.


Pan Fried Buttermilk Catfish


  • 2 small catfish fillets (4-6 oz. each)
  • 1 Tbsp. safflower oil or peanut oil (or neutral taste oil of your choice)
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup cornmeal or a mix of ½ cup cornmeal and ½ cup all purpose flour
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • freshly ground pepper to taste


  • Soak catfish in buttermilk for 10 minutes, max.
  • Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat.
  • Season corn meal with salt and pepper. Mix to combine.
  • Dredge each catfish fillet in the corn meal.
  • Place each fillet in the skillet and cook for approximately 5 minutes. Turn. If fish sticks to pan, wait at least another minute to turn.
  • Cook 4-5 minutes on the second side.
  • Plate and serve immediately.

Serves two. Serve with steamed vegetables, cheese grits, and a whole grain roll.

Catfish is versatile, flavorful, and good for you. Give it a try.

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Filed under Fish, Healthful Eating

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