“Catfish can be found in most every river, lake, and pond in Texas, and we all grew up fishing for them,” says Tom Perini, owner of Perini Ranch Steakhouse in Buffalo Gap, Texas, where fried catfish is on the menu. “Catfish is one of the few things openly accepted by ranchers and cattlemen as an alternative to beef,” he continues, explaining that you can now find farm-raised catfish in most every supermarket across the country. While I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s the same as beef, I won’t push it away at the table—especially not when it’s fried like this.–David Leite
LC Texas-Style Fried Catfish Note
Make no mistake, there are umpteen approaches to frying this Southern staple. None is necessarily right or wrong. But this one is superlative. As you may have gathered, this is Texas-style fried catfish. If you’re from Louisiana or Mississippi or anyplace else that also swears allegiance to this whiskered bottom-feeder, we beg your patience. It’s not that we’re partial to Texas, we’re simply partial to this recipe. We’ll work our way to your state. In the meantime, you should really try fried catfish the Texas way. That is to say, this way.
Special Equipment: Deep-fry or candy or instant-read thermometer
Fried Catfish Recipe
- Quick Glance
- 30 M
- 30 M
- Serves 6
- 3/4 cup whole milk
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 2 teaspoons seasoning salt (such as Lawry’s, Tony Chachere’s, or Zataran’s)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
- 2 cups finely ground yellow cornmeal
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- Vegetable oil (enough so that the fish can be fully submerged in the oil)
- 6 catfish fillets (about 5 pounds total)
- Tartar Sauce (optional)
- 1. In a shallow bowl, combine the milk, egg, seasoning salt, and white pepper and mix well.
- 2. In a shallow dish or on a large plate, combine the cornmeal, flour, salt, cayenne and black peppers, and onion and garlic powders.
- 3. Pour enough oil into a 7-quart cast-iron Dutch oven or other similarly sized vessel so that the fish fillets will be submerged. (You want to make the oil at least 1 1/2 inches deep and, if you prefer to deep-fry your fish, at least 3 or so inches deep.) Heat the oil over medium-high heat until it registers 350° (175°C) on a deep-fry or candy or instant-read thermometer.
- 4. While the oil heats, slice each catfish fillet in half lengthwise and pat it dry. Dip the catfish fillets, 1 at a time, in the egg mixture, completely coating the fish and letting any excess drip off. Dredge each piece in the seasoned cornmeal, turning and coating it completely. Shake off any excess cornmeal.
- 5. When the oil is hot, carefully slip several fillets into the oil without crowding them (you will have to fry them in batches). Fry until the fillets are golden brown on the outside and cooked through on the inside, about 6 minutes. Transfer the fried catfish to a wire rack and let rest for a few minutes prior to serving. If desired, serve the Tartar Sauce on the side.
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