Round The Table: Catfish: It’s Not Just For Frying, Anymore

One fish swims ahead of the competition as a Southern Favorite—catfish. Festivals devote themselves to it. Beauty queens compete for its name and family reunions would be incomplete with out a platter of crispy fried catfish and hush puppies. While other fish, such as bream, crappie and bass are popular in the South, none have settled into our culture and dinner plates as the bottom-dwelling, whiskered catfish.

Many of us catfish lovers subscribe to the belief that if it ain’t fried, it ain’t cooked and while we can all agree that golden fried catfish fillets are indeed delicious, this mild white fish can star in many non-fried applications as well. Dishes such as catfish pâté, catfish mousse or catfish filets encrusted with chopped pecans.  Whether you like golden fried fish or light, flaky, baked fish, one of these recipes is sure to delight the catfish lover in you.

One of my favorite catfish recipes is a Catfish BLT. This sandwich will hook anyone with its thick golden fillet of catfish, crisp bacon and tangy Come-Back Sauce.  If you feel like frying catfish perfectly is out of your reach, be sure to check out our How-To Video on-line.

Here are a few tips for frying the perfect fillet

  • Select an oil with a high smoke point, like peanut
  • Remove excess moisture before dredging the fillets in the cornmeal mixture
  • Don’t over-crowd the skillet
  • Remove the fish from the hot oil with a wide, slotted fish spatula
  • To keep fried catfish warm, place the fried fillets on a wire rack set on an aluminum foil lined pan; place in a 250°F oven. For a crisp texture, do not cover the fillets.


This classic sandwich gets an upgrade with a crispy fried catfish fillet and Come-Back Sauce.

Catfish BLT


Yield: 4 very large sandwiches

  • 4 large catfish fillets
  • ¾ cup yellow cornmeal
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • 4 sandwich rolls
  • 4 Tablespoon of unsalted butter, softened
  • 12 slices of thick sliced bacon, cooked
  • Sliced tomato (you decide how much is enough)
  • Lettuce of choice (I used hydroponic leaf lettuce)
  • Come-Back Sauce (Recipe follows)

Combine the cornmeal, flour, salt, and cayenne pepper in a wide, shallow bowl. Dredge the catfish fillets in the cornmeal mixture taking care to coat each side evenly.  Shake off the excess and transfer them to a wire rack while the oil heats.

Heat ¾” of vegetable oil in a black iron skillet until it reaches a temperature of 350°F.  Add the catfish in a single layer and fry until golden brown, about 5 to 6 minutes depending on size. Remove the catfish to a paper towel lined plate to drain.

Spread the softened butter on each side of the sandwich rolls and lightly brown in a large, dry skillet. Remove to a serving plate. Layer the lettuce, bacon, tomato and catfish fillet on the bread and top with a health dollop of Come-Back Sauce.

Come-Back Sauce

Yield: about 1 quart

This tangy, orange and garlicky sauce originated in Mississippi’s first Greek restaurant, The Rotisserie. Mississippians love this sauce on seafood, fried food, including fried green tomatoes and some enterprising folks even accomplish the feat of making an appetizer out of saltine crackers and Come-Back Sauce.  The name says it all—it’s so good, you come back for more.

  • A lot of ingredients, a little time and they’ll always come back for more.

    2 cups mayonnaise (I use Duke’s)

  • ½ cup ketchup
  • 4 Tablespoons of water
  • 3 garlic cloves, put through the garlic press
  • juice of 1 grated onion
  • 2 teaspoons mustard (I use Dijon)
  • 1 ½ Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • dash of Tabasco
  • dash of paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons white vinegar
  • ½ cup chili sauce (I use Heinz)
  • 1 cup vegetable oil (I use ½ cup)
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Place all the ingredients in a medium sized mixing bowl; stir until combined.  Transfer the mixture into jars with tight fitting lids and store, refrigerated for about 2 weeks.

Another unique way to serve this delicious fish is this Creole Catfish Dip. It’s delicious with toasted French bread, but serve this dip with sweet potato fries for best results.


Catfish lovers know you don’t have to fry this fish to make a delicious treat.

 Creole Catfish Dip


  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1-2 Tablespoons of Creole seasoning (I like Tony Chachere’s)
  • 4 to 5 catfish fillets
  • 8 ounces of cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 2 Tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 2 Tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Salt, to taste

Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Spray a baking sheet with non-stick spray and set aside.

Mix the cayenne pepper and creole seasoning together in a shallow dish; coat both sides of the fish fillets with the seasoning mix.  Arrange the fish on the prepared baking sheet and bake until the fish flakes easily with a fork, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Let the fish cool completely, transfer to a mixing bowl and break the fillets apart with a fork. Stir in the cream cheese, sour cream, Worcestershire sauce, mayonnaise, lemon juice; taste and add salt if necessary.  Transfer the dip to a bowl with a tight fitting lid and refrigerate overnight to allow the flavors to develop.

Serve with hot sweet potato fries.

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