Jefferson Adams is a freelance writer living in San Francisco. His poems, essays and photographs have appeared in Antioch Review, Blue Mesa Review, CALIBAN, Hayden's Ferry Review, Huffington Post, the Mississippi Review, and Slate among others.
He is a member of both the National Writers Union, the International Federation of Journalists, and covers San Francisco Health News for Examiner.com.
Now, in my decidedly un-Southern opinion, catfish is best when first soaked in brine, then marinated in buttermilk. Some folks like an egg wash, some don't.
However, when I want catfish, but don't have time to soak and marinate and cook my favored recipe, then I turn to what I call a quick, or a 'dry' recipe. So called, because there's no dunking the catfish in any egg or buttermilk. Just add seasoning and cornmeal coating and cook. This simple method makes preparation and clean-up a breeze.
The recipe here makes about four servings, but it is easy to scale up or down. It also works well with just about any type of fish.
2 pounds catfish fillets, skinned
2 tablespoons crab boil seasoning, like Old Bay
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
2 cups Rice Chex, finely crushed
1 cup self-rising cornmeal
1½ quarts vegetable oil, for frying
Place Rice Chex in a sturdy plastic bag, and crush with a rolling pin or heavy pan until powdery.
Fill a Dutch oven or a deep frying pot with oil, and heat to 350 degrees F.
Sprinkle both sides of each catfish with salt, pepper and crab boil seasoning.
In a separate bowl, combine crushed Rice Chex, spices, and cornmeal. Coat the catfish in the mixture and place in hot oil.
Using slotted spoon or heat-resistant spatula, gently lower pieces one at a time into hot oil. Cooking just a few pieces at a time, fry until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Fish will float when done. Drain on paper towels.
Tip: For crispy fillets, make sure not to overcrowd the pan. Adding too many fillets at a time will drop the oil temperature, causing the breading to absorb oil, and leaving your fillets soggy.