Celebrate National Catfish Month With These Tasty Recipes
Here are recipes to get your catfish observance started right.
August 02, 2022 at 5:11 pm
There are observation days for anything you can imagine from Measure Your Feet Day to No Socks Day and everything in between. Then, there are tasty observances like Macaroni and Cheese Day and National Catfish Month.
National Catfish Month was first observed in 2013 as a monthlong follow-up to National Catfish Day as proclaimed by former President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s. Both are meant to honor catfish itself and the farmers who help put the commonly eaten seafood on tables worldwide. According to a 2020 report by IntraFish, a seafood, aquaculture and fisheries news outlet, catfish is among America’s top ten most consumed seafood species.
Catfish is a versatile seafood item that can be fried, grilled or baked. To get you started on an amazing observation month, here are some recipes to try out.
Juawana Colbert's fried catfish
Juawana Colbert from Netflix‘s Selling Tampa doesn’t just enjoy being a luxury real estate agent; she also loves to cook.
“When I do make time to cook, one of my favorites is fried catfish,” Colbert told Blavity. “There are so many ways to make catfish but the recipe I use has held tried and true. My mother gave me this recipe and I have never changed it.”
By using her mother’s recipe, Colbert noted paying attention is essential to perfectly fried catfish.
“Remember to make sure the oil is hot but not so hot that it burns your fish before it’s done. The color of the finished product is very important,” she said.
- Catfish half (I half my filet piece of catfish — almost like a big catfish tender)
- Zatarain’s Mix (seasoned crispy fish fry, seafood breading mix)
- Onion Powder
- Lightly sprinkle onion powder on both sides of the fish
- Dip fish in a bag of flour
- Dip fish in a bag of Zatarain’s mix
- Fry fish until it is golden brown
Clifford's catfish n' "ghetti"
Chef Clifford Hunt II considers his catfish n’ “ghetti” recipe to be a traditional meal.
“Growing up Black, Catholic and a true Chicagoan this dish is a staple,” Hunt told Blavity. “However, for many people outside of the region, this cuisine delicacy seems weird. Who in the world would want to eat fried fish with another meal such as spaghetti? Hear me out — it’s the best!”
Having fried fish and spaghetti may be a midwestern thing, but Hunt said it can all come together for anyone.
“In Chicago and many other parts of the Midwest, you can find fish and spaghetti at barbecues, parties and even at a repast for a loved one. Around Lent, when you can’t eat meat on Fridays, people like my mother would make a big pot of meatless spaghetti to accompany some crispy pieces of fried catfish nuggets along with slaw or potato salad.”
Hunt’s recipe seeks to jazz things up a little bit by playing around with textures.
“The base sauce of this recipe coats orzo, similar to rice but is still a pasta grain. Now, open up your mind and senses by trying out this local delicacy from my roots,” he said.
- 2 cups buttermilk
- 3 to 4 nice-sized fresh catfish filets
- 1 small head of savoy or regular green cabbage, thinly sliced
- 6 to 8 fresh Brussel sprouts, thinly sliced
- 2 loosely packed cups of shredded carrots
- ¼ cup white vinegar
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 ½ tbsp sugar
- 2 cups mayo or (less if you want it less creamy)
- ¼ bunch tarragon, roughly 4 stems of tarragon, leaves removed and finely chopped
- 1 lemon zested, then halved
- 1 ½ cup mayo
- 1 tsp dijon mustard (may use regular mustard)
- 2 tsp of Louisiana hot sauce or hot sauce of your choosing
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tbsp sweet relish
- 1 tsp whole capers roughly chopped
- 1 cup cornmeal
- 1 cup corn flour
- 2 tbsp of Tony Chachere, Slap Ya Mama or any other cajun/creole seasoning of your
- Roughly 4 tbsp of yellow mustard
- Oil for frying
- Lemon pepper seasoning
Tomato sauce and orzo:
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 (28oz) can of peeled San Marzano tomatoes
- 1 medium shallot, finely sliced
- 1 tbsp fennel seed, roughly chopped
- 1 tbsp dried thyme
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- 1 tbsp Mrs. Dash salt-free Italian seasoning
- 1 tbsp garlic powder
- 1 tbsp onion powder
- 2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp cayenne
- 1 tbsp jarred minced garlic
- 2 dried bay leaves
- ¼ cup sweet BBQ sauce of your choosing
- ⅓ cup Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tsp sugar
- A few good dashes of hot sauce
- 1 ½ cups orzo
- 1 tbsp butter
- 2 ½ cups chicken stock
- A few leaves of fresh basil, thinly sliced or roughly torn
These first three steps are best prepared ahead of time to allow the flavors to meld:
- Prep Catfish: Pour buttermilk over catfish in a ziplock bag for at least one hour in the refrigerator or even better overnight.
- Prepare your slaw in a large bowl by adding cabbage, Brussels, carrots, both kinds of vinegar, sugar, mayo, salt to taste and plenty of fresh black pepper. Give it all a good stir to combine. Taste to adjust seasoning and let sit in the fridge to chill.
- In another mixing bowl, add tarragon, lemon zest, juice of half a lemon, mayo, mustard, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, relish and capers. Give a good stir to combine and add salt and pepper to taste. Place in the fridge to chill.
Cooking your orzo base:
- In a large, heavy bottom pot or Dutch oven, heat vegetable oil over medium-high heat.
- Add shallots.
- Stir and cook shallots until fragrant, about five minutes. Then, add fennel seeds to toast for
about one to two minutes.
- Lower heat to medium. Add thyme, oregano and Italian seasoning and toast for about 30 secs.
- Add the entire can of peeled tomatoes. Use the back of a spoon or a spatula to stir and mash the tomatoes to create the beginnings of the sauce.
- After a few stirs, add in the rest of your dried seasonings, garlic, bay leaves, barbecue sauce, Worcestershire sauce, sugar and a few good dashes of hot sauce. Give everything a really good stir and return to medium-low heat. Simmer with lid atop but slightly ajar. It’ll be ready when the liquid has evaporated some, the tomatoes have broken down more and the sauce becomes a maroon-ish color. You want the liquid to evaporate as you work to achieve a thick paste-like sauce with concentrated flavors. This should take about 35 to 45 minutes.
- Add salt and pepper to taste. Then, keep warm on low heat once complete.
Finish orzo and fry fish:
- In a small pot, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add orzo and toast until golden and fragrant for about two to four minutes. Add chicken stock and cook with the lid on over medium-high heat for about 12 minutes. Don’t worry if it’s a little more al dente than you’d expect because it will finish in the sauce.
- Pour the cooked orzo directly into the large pot with tomato sauce and give a good stir. It should have some thickness where you slide a spoon through the middle of the pot and there is a
line separation that’s slow to return. Add a few splashes of water if it’s a little too thick. Keep
- Add cornmeal, corn flour and creole seasoning to a grocery store bag or a regular bowl for you fancy people. Remove the filets from the ziplock bag, and discard the buttermilk. Place catfish on a large plate, season with salt and pepper to taste, a few sprinkles of creole seasoning and slather all over with yellow mustard. Place filets in the grocery store bag and shake to coat. Remove filets and place on a platter or plate and let the fish rest for a few minutes before frying so that breading may adhere.
- Meanwhile, in a heavy bottom frying pan and/or cast iron pan, add enough cooking oil to reach ¾ to ½ the way up the pan. Heat oil over medium heat. Allow the oil to get nice and hot. Unless you have an oil thermometer, the easiest way to test is by sprinkling cornmeal mixture into the oil. If it’s sizzling, it’s ready.
- Depending on the size of your fry pan and fish filets, you will add one to two filets at a time. Don’t
overcrowd! It’ll not only cause grease to rise and splatter, but it will lower your temperature and not allow for crispy fish! Cook each filet for about three to five minutes per side (depending on if you like yours fried hard or not). Place fish on a wire rack or paper towel. Sprinkle with a little salt and lemon pepper, straight out of the grease so it’ll adhere. Serve hot.
Putting it together:
- To plate, spoon the slaw and tartar into smaller bowls or ramekins.
- On the plate, spoon a nice amount of orzo and lay your fish atop.
- Finish with some fresh basil leaves and the remainder of the lemon cut into wedges.
- Eat up!
We hope you enjoy your catfish all month long. Don’t forget to tag us in your cooking pictures so we can see how you did.