Jefferson Adams is a freelance writer living in San Francisco. He has covered Health News for http://Examiner.com, and provided health and medical content for http://Sharecare.com. His work has appeared in Antioch Review, Blue Mesa Review, CALIBAN, Hayden's Ferry Review, Huffington Post, the Mississippi Review, and Slate, among others.
I recently began using crushed Rice Chex as a gluten-free coating for frying foods. Happy with the results, so far, I've began to tackle all of my old favorites, including catfish.
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.