Cornmeal-Crusted Fried Catfish
This is a typical southern presentation for catfish. It is a quick, easy and delicious seafood main dish. The combination of buttermilk and cornmeal adds a nice flavor and forms a crust that becomes light and crunchy with very little oil. If you prefer a slightly thicker crust, dip the fillets first in flour, then in the buttermilk, followed by the cornmeal. The recipe can be made in any amount needed.
- 4 catfish fillets, about 6 ounces each
- 3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
- 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup buttermilk (see notes below)
- 1/4 cup canola or other cooking oil (or enough to coat bottom of skillet with about 1/8-inch of oil)
- 1 lemon, cut into 4 wedges
- Tartar sauce, store-bought or homemade (optional, see recipe in the similar and related recipes links)
On a flat dish, mix together the cornmeal, paprika, salt and pepper. Place the buttermilk in a large shallow bowl. Dredge the fillets first in the milk, then in the cornmeal mixture, shaking lightly to remove excess. Place on a rack. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. (The refrigeration step can be omitted, but chilling helps the coating adhere to the fish during frying.) Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Carefully place each fillet in pan and fry until golden brown and cooked, about 4 minutes per side depending on thickness. (If necessary, fry the catfish in batches.) Remove from pan and return to rack for about 1 minute to drain excess oil. Serve immediately, passing lemon wedges and tartar sauce separately.
Notes: If you do not have buttermilk on hand, you can make your own very quickly. For this recipe, add 1-1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice to 1/2 cup milk. Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes before using.