Fried Catfish with Cheese Grits

by Lana Stuart on September 28, 2010 · 22 comments

Fried Catfish with Cheese Grits

You might not think that growing up as I did in a tiny southern town would afford one many social gathering opportunties. Oh, how wrong you’d be! We used every possible opportunity to get together with family, friends and neighbors. We had teas and showers, club meetings of all kinds, even church services became a social get-together. And no social gathering was complete without food of some kind. There were very specific foods for each type of occasion. Teas and showers called for little finger sandwiches, cheese straws and petit fours. Club meetings might mean dips and chips with a selection of soft drinks. But one of the most fun gatherings was a bunch of friends and neighbors getting together for a good old-fashioned fish fry. Most south Georgia fish fries back in my day were impromptu events prompted by a lucky fisherman having a good day on the water. The catch in our area was typically either bream or catfish. After the day’s catch was cleaned, the call would go out to friends that a fish fry was being prepared.

Now, if you weren’t the fishing type or you just had a craving for some fish in between one of those occasions, you could always having that craving satisfied at one of the local fish camps. I remember Mama and Daddy loading up me and my sisters in the station wagon and heading for Pace’s Fish Camp. Pace’s, like every other fish camp around there, was not a fancy eating establishment. In fact, it was the complete opposite of fancy. As I recall it from the late 60′s, there were probably six tables each with six straight-backed wooden chairs around each – the kind that made that screeching noise when you pulled them across the floor…you know what I mean. No tablecloths, of course, and a roll of paper towels on each table. Like I said, not fancy.

Last weekend I decided it was high time for some fried catfish. I sometimes have some at a local seafood place when I go home to visit my Mama, but I couldn’t remember the last time I’d cooked any myself. And, since neither BeeBop nor I are fishermen, I just trusted my local grocery store to provide the fillets. Even though it had been years since I cooked fried catfish myself, I found that I hadn’t forgotten how :-)

1 pound catfish fillets
2 cups milk
3 cups fine ground white cornmeal
2 tsp. salt
Peanut oil

It was really difficult to give measurements for this recipe since I’ve never measured any of the ingredients. Like many home cooks, I just do what “looks right.” So use the measures as a guideline and add more or take away if you think you need to.

Catfish Fillets

Rinse the catfish fillets under cold water and place them in a shallow baking dish or pan. Add enough milk to cover fillets. Cover the dish and refrigerate for approximately one hour. Remove the fillets from the refrigerator about 10 minutes before ready to cook.

Place a large cast iron frying pan over high heat and pour in peanut oil to a depth of approximately 1 1/4 inch. Allow the oil to come to frying temperature while preparing the fish.

Coating catfish fillets for frying

Combine the cornmeal and salt in a shallow pan. Some cooks like to add a bit of cayenne with the cornmeal. If you like that sort of thing, then go for it! Remove fillets from the milk letting most of the excess drip off. Place one fillet at a time into the cornmeal gently  turning the fillet several times until it’s coated well. Prepare all the fillets before you begin frying.

Catfish Frying

I chose to do my frying outdoors on the side burner of BeeBop’s gas grill. It eliminated the lingering fishy-greasy smell in the house and any splashes and pops were much easier to clean up. Carefully lower the fillets, one at a time, into the hot oil. Don’t crowd the pan frying in several batches if necessary. Turn the fillets when golden brown on one side. Cook on the second side until nicely browned as well. Return the fillets to the first side to cook for an additional minute or so if needed to fully develop a golden brown color.

Keep Fried Catfish Warm Until Serving

Remove the cooked fillets to a baking pan lined with parchment paper and keep them warm in a 200 degree oven when you finish cooking.

For a traditional fish fry menu, serve your golden brown and crispy fried catfish with cheese grits, coleslaw, french fries and hush puppies. And don’t forget the traditional accompaniments of onion, lemon slices and pickles – both sweet and dill.

Fried catfish accompaniments

Add speaking of cheese grits…no southern fish fry would be complete without a pot full of creamy, cheesy grits. And, wouldn’t you know it, I just happen to have a recipe for you. It was one of the first recipes I ever posted here on the blog and it’s still a good one! Visit my original post on Cheese Grits.

Fried Catfish with Cheese Grits

Rating: 51

Prep Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 35 minutes

Fried Catfish with Cheese Grits

Golden brown fried catfish fillets

Ingredients

  • 1 pound catfish fillets
  • 2 cups milk
  • 3 cups fine ground white cornmeal
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • Peanut oil

Instructions

  1. Rinse catfish fillets under cold water and place in a shallow baking dish or pan. Add milk to cover fillets. Cover the dish and refrigerate for approximately one hour.
  2. Remove the fillets from the refrigerator about 10 minutes before ready to cook.
  3. Place a large cast iron frying pan over high heat and pour in peanut oil to a depth of approximately 1 inch. Allow oil to come to frying temperature while preparing the fish.
  4. Combine the cornmeal and salt in a shallow pan. Remove fillets from milk letting most of the excess drip off. Place one fillet at a time into the cornmeal and turn it several times to coat well. Prepare all the fillets before you begin frying.
  5. Carefully lower the fillets, one at a time, into the hot oil. Don’t crowd the pan frying in several batches if necessary. Turn the fillets when golden brown on one side. Cook on the second side until nicely browned as well. Return the fillets to the first side to cook for an additional minute or two if needed to fully develop a golden brown color.
  6. Serve with cheese grits, coleslaw, french fries and hush puppies.

Notes

It was really difficult to give measurements for this recipe since I’ve never measured any of the ingredients. Like many home cooks, I just do what “looks right.” So use the measures as a guideline and add more or take away if you think you need to.

http://www.lanascooking.com/2010/09/28/fried-catfish-with-cheese-grits/

Other recipes for fried catfish that you might enjoy from around the internet:

Never miss a recipe!
Subscribe now to receive new posts by email.

Enter your email address below to get each new post via email. We promise we'll never send spam or give your email address to anyone else.

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lori @ RecipeGirl September 28, 2010 at 9:41 am

I’ve never had catfish- would love to try yours! Still on the fence w/ grits though. I’ve had a couple of icky versions and a couple of versions that were so tainted w/ cream and cheese that I’m not sure you could even taste any of the grits lol!

Reply

2 Lana September 28, 2010 at 9:51 am

Lori – I think the most important thing about grits is to make sure you get a brand processed in the deep South. I know Quaker is probably the most widely distributed and they’re a great company, but they just don’t have those southern roots :-) A regional southern brand like Jim Dandy is much the best. And, you’re right, grits don’t really need loads of cream. As a matter of fact, I don’t use cream in mine at all. A reasonable amount of butter, salt and pepper is really all that’s needed. That lets the taste of the grits shine through. They’re just ground corn, you know, very similar to polenta if you think about it.

Reply

3 Lindsey @ Gingerbread Bagels September 28, 2010 at 10:06 am

I absolutely LOVE fried catfish and yours looks soooo good! Your pictures look wonderful too. YUM!!! I want some catfish now. :)

Reply

4 Teri September 28, 2010 at 10:08 am

I first had catfish when I lived in KY in the late 70′s and I haven’t had it since. It’s time to make it again don’t you think?

I never heard of the term “Fish Camp” it sounds like a diner that only serves fish. I think I would’ve loved that.

And cooking on the side burner….what an idea. I’m glad you think outside the box because I sure never do. Thanks.

Reply

5 Lucy September 28, 2010 at 10:41 am

I grew up in a small, rural Georgia town also and catfish was a staple — always easy to catch either in the creek or the pond. I don’t use milk but otherwise recipes are very similar. Thanks for sharing!

Reply

6 Rocquie September 28, 2010 at 11:40 am

Ooooh, this really resonates, brings longings of home, and sounds delicious. We never had grits at our fish fries (but sure why not) we always had french fries, coleslaw, and hushpuppies. And yes to the pickles, onions, and lemons. Cheese grits and catfish sounds mighty good.

Reply

7 Stacy's Snippets September 28, 2010 at 1:22 pm

Hi Lana…just wanted to let you know that I featured your 8 ball zucchini post on my blog today for my Tasty Tuesday post! I made it last Thursday and have been craving, drooling, dreaming about it ever since! Good thing I have a few more 8 balls that are ready to pick!!!

Reply

8 Drick September 28, 2010 at 8:28 pm

oh my Lana, should have called me and I would’ve come running.. nothing better than fish n grits – your catfish is perfect, fried crispy like I like it

Reply

9 Ardna September 29, 2010 at 9:16 am

I love fried catfish thou i never fried it with cornmeal. such a great idea!

Reply

10 Angie September 29, 2010 at 12:32 pm

I haven’t made catfish in a little while now I’m craving it. We ate so much of it when I was a kid. We fished at least once a week, and if we didn’t have money for meat, out to the pond, to catch dinner. I use to complain to my Grandma and she would say at least your daddy doesn’t make you eat squirrel, rabbit and possum the rest of the days of the week. My how food stamps have changed the lifestyle and culture of the poor.

Reply

11 Dixie Caviar September 30, 2010 at 11:17 pm

This looks amazing! I love fried catfish and cheesy grits. Now I’m hungry…

Reply

12 Suzanne October 1, 2010 at 1:49 pm

OK, when you have a post like this you should be required to send out samples! I can just taste it!

Reply

13 Kay Heritage October 4, 2010 at 8:09 am

Living in Savannah, Fried catfish and cheese grits rule! Looks fantastic, Nanalana!

Reply

14 Shut Up & Cook March 30, 2012 at 10:41 pm

These look delicious!

I’ve done Scallop ‘Po Boys before, but these look like they would hit the spot. YUM!

Reply

15 Miss @ Miss in the Kitchen September 29, 2012 at 10:23 pm

I grew up in my family’s catfish restaurant and I still love cooking up a big batch of it today. It’s a happy day when my boys bring in a big catfish to fry.

Reply

16 Angie January 17, 2013 at 10:52 am

This looks amazing! I need directions to your house the next time you fry up some catfish! It is defanitly a Southern Georgia staple. My Grandma lives in South Georgia and during the summers when I would visit, we would go to a wonderful lil place in the middle of no where that sounds EXACTLY like Pace’s. We went for old time sake last summer and it is nothing like it was as a kid :( Total bummer! Cant wait to fry some catfish up now.

Reply

17 Lana January 17, 2013 at 2:43 pm

Angie – I don’t think I’ve fried any catfish since I wrote this post. It’s really past time for a fish supper around here! Next time I’ll photograph the hush puppies and do a post on them.

Reply

18 Sherri Osborn July 1, 2013 at 1:34 pm

I have never tried catfish but this recipe really makes me want to! Thanks for sharing.

Reply

19 Lana Stuart July 1, 2013 at 2:50 pm

You’re welcome, Sherri! Re-reading this old post is making me want to have a fish fry!

Reply

20 SteveJ July 11, 2013 at 6:08 pm

I fell in love at first bite with fried catfish on a visit to Beale St. in Memphis. :) Farmed catfish are also an excellent sustainable fish, so you can feel good about not contributing to the depletion of our natural resources. Be sure you are buying U.S. farmed fish though, the ones from Asia can have some nasty chemicals in them. In Virginia they are readily available year round.
Your recipe looks great and much easier than my usual. Thanks!

Reply

21 Calvin March 26, 2014 at 8:02 pm

Looks great; fish and grits was always a favorite at our house

Reply

Leave a Comment

{ 1 trackback }

Previous post:

Next post:

>
Real Time Web Analytics