“A dream of life comes to me, like a catfish dancing on the end of the line.” – Bruce Springsteen
I’ve never caught a fish larger than my four fingers, whereas my wife caught pollock after pollock after pollock years ago when I bought her a day fishing trip near Pt. Defiance for her birthday. We both love fish like trout, salmon, unagi (eel), and tilapia. I would add smelt to the list, but we haven’t seen smelt in ages.
Some people look down on catfish. They aren’t the most beautiful fish in the world, but then . . . who cares. The leading catfish producing states in America are Alabama, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, and Texas.
We have tried catfish a couple of times and were always disappointed, no matter how much other people say they’ve enjoyed it. There was no flavor, which means no taste. We went shopping at Safeway the day before Peg’s birthday. I was checking out the cost of salmon and saw a package of catfish chunks. They almost had a sad look as if they hadn’t been good enough sized chunks to matter . . . along with more waiting in the bag and hiding. I felt we had nothing to lose but around three dollars.
Back home Peg went to write notes on her computer, while I prepared dinner. We had Yakisoba (Japanese Stir-Fried Noodles) leftovers from the night before, but I had eaten some for breakfast so we needed to add a bit more to the previous selection. I looked at the breakfast bowl and the catfish and thought: I can use some of the same ingredients plus from last night. I went to my computer and found a video about deep frying catfish, The Best Damn Fried Catfish – COOKing with SylvMac, along with some comments from southern cooking expert Paula Dean. Mostly, however, I relied on previous cooking tips and suggestions from Peggy.
“I went fishing and caught a bass, a catfish and a hammerfer. What’s a hammerfer? Fer driving nails.”
I felt prepared. I mixed flour with cornmeal and some healthy sprinkles of spices and my magic bag of Rice Chex. I crumbled two fists full into the cornmeal/flour bowl. I added the catfish pieces to a bowl of 2 raw eggs, a little milk, pepper, a couple squeezes of lemon juice and then placed them in a waiting skillet of hot oil. When the first batch came out of the frying pan, I placed the catfish on our cat diner platter. They were golden brown and looked good enough to eat. I stopped sampling after three or four pieces and called Peg to come up to dinner. Peg had one bite and I could tell from her smile, her nod and her moving a couple of other pieces over to her plate that our catfish dinner was a success.
I used tartar sauce with my catfish, while Peg used Johnny’s Salmon Finishing Sauce from Safeway with hers. I squeezed a little lime juice on the catfish . . . and made it even better. I made sure there were two pieces left for Peg’s birthday breakfast the next morning.
We were truly amazed. We’ve had dined on larger catfish fillets at restaurants, but bland is not our style. We may add catfish to our shopping lists. If they are at a good price!”The catfish is plenty good enough fish for anyone.” – Mark Twain