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Have a Catfish Dinner Tonight

August 5, 2014

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere are certain areas that have food associated with them. Texas BBQ, New England seafood and Midwest pork are a few of these. South Mississippi and Louisiana is where catfish is king.

Considered ‘food of the poor’ for many it has a stigma to it. Go to south Mississippi festivals though or travel through and there’s no doubt it’s place in the world of the catfish. The catfish restaurants are everywhere but there’s more!

Humphreys county in Mississippi is center of production for 70% of the catfish eaten in the US, with another 10% coming from other Mississippi counties. Over 102,000 acres are dedicated to the lowly catfish. The “catfish capital of the world” holds the world catfish festival in Belzoni Mississippi each year, an event that ranks among the top 20 in the southeast.

Catfish adds $4 billion annually to the southern states. It employs 13,000 people and spreads from Alabama, across Mississippi and Louisiana into Arkansas. Mature catfish lay 3,000-4,000 eggs per pound of body weight annually and remain in production 4-6 years. Fertilized eggs are raised in special hatcheries designed to duplicate a natural catfish environment. When they hatch and are raised to 4-6 inches they are housed in ponds with fresh water where they are raised for 18 months to 2 years,when they are between 1-2 pounds. They go from tank to killed, cleaned, cut and on ice in less than a half hour.

Catfish are said to be ugly, muddy tasting, slippery, garbage fish unfit for the table. To that there’s only one suggestion – go to Mississippi for your next vacation! It may not be a rich part of the country but here and across into Louisiana is country roots including dining on the “poor mans fish”. Catfish are sold whole as well as in steaks, fillets, strips nuggets and processed that includes marinating and breading.

Two important tips for preparing catfish include preparation of the fish and soaking in buttermilk for an hour before cooking. Skin the fish and slice it thin – no more than ¼” is best. Soak in the milk then rinse before dredging in corn meal to coat and set aside while heating the oil . The corn meal mixture can be basic – a little salt and pepper and a teaspoon of cayenne pepper. Heat oil or butter for pan frying and add the catfish, cooking 5-7 minutes on each side, cooking until golden brown and flaking easily.

Another test is picking it up on one end with tongs and it doesn’t bend when lifted up. Traditionally catfish is served with hush puppies, coleslaw and of course sweet tea. Don’t overcook. Some recommend cooking fish until it flakes but many connoisseurs say this dries out the catfish.

For those opposed to pan frying catfish can also be pan broiled, baked or grilled.

Here’s some recipes to get you started!

Catfish jambalaya

Catfish sloppy joes

Oven fried catfish

All-American Jalapeno & Honey BBQ Catfish

Quick Cajun Catfish

There are many recipes in the links at the end of this article too. Wild cooked, dry heat prepared catfish offers just 89 calories for a 3 ounce serving. A filet of farmed catfish is 220 calories vs 150 for a wild caught filet. The high protein meat of farmed catfish is also offering 40% of the daily thiamin, 35% phosphorus, 70% of B12 and 20% niacin in that one filet.

Think again about catfish – southern style!

  • Catfish are farm raised as well as a fishing challenge.
  • Catfish are known as “the poor man’s fish”.
  • Over 95% of catfish is raised in the south.

Did you know? Catfish accounts for 572 million pounds and $421 million in sales of the aquaculture market. In comparison salmon is 110 million pounds, tilapia 11 million pounds.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Ema Jones permalink
    August 5, 2014 7:49 AM

    What great recipes of catfish! I’m certainly trying them one by one 🙂

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