Low Country Catfish Fry
Fried catfish is an icon of Southern Cuisine. This ‘crispy on the outside’, ‘moist & flaky on the inside’ dish has been a Low Country staple since the region’s inception. Fried catfish has been a popular meal for a looooooong time, and rightly so.
Low Country Vibes
So, what is the Low Country? The LC is as much a geographical region as it is cultural. This coastal section of South Carolina has a vibe all its own. Its unique climate, landscape, history, and overall southern charm is appealing to those that live there and visit there. You’ve probably seen the pictures; saltwater basins, marshlands thick with cordgrass, live oaks covered in Spanish moss, etc…
The most important piece (in my humble opinion) is the food. This region’s cuisine would be very lack-luster if it wasn’t for the Gullah Geechee. These folks are descendants of Africans who were enslaved on the rice, indigo, and cotton plantations of the lower Atlantic coast. Their adaptive style of cooking led to a new style of Southern Cuisine, totally unique to the area, with a strong emphasis on seasonality and seafood. Oodles of seafood-rich recipes.
Catfish are not just regional to the Low Country area, these not-so-little fishies are global! Found all over the world with a ballpark estimate of some 3,000 species! When it comes to Low Country Catfish, this coastal species have been able to adapt to both freshwater and saltwater, darting in and out of marshy streams and brackish rivers. To ensure a consistent, best-tasting product, most catfish are farm-raised. These catfish (much easier to catch, trust me) have a non-fishy flavor, described as mild-sweet, with firm, moist meat. Perfect for frying.
In addition to our Catfish, there are just a few more staples we need to accomplish this recipe.
- Superfine Cornmeal- for the best cornmeal crust, superfine is a must. Don’t worry if you have trouble sourcing it. Simply place your cornmeal in a clean coffee grinder or food processor and blend until light and fluffy.
- Buttermilk- this ingredient not only allows for our crust to adhere to our catfish but it also helps balance flavor.
- Flour- all-purpose flour is blended with the cornmeal for a light and airy crust.
- Seasonings- Low Country seasonings are quite unique and regionally specific. Instead of making your own from scratch, feel free to source an already blended product.
- Peanut Oil or Lard- these high-heat oils allow us to reach the temperatures necessary for a quick and crispy fry. They also have their own unique flavor advantages, much recommended.
Low Country Catfish Fry
- 2 lbs. Catfish Fillet 2 pieces, cut in half to make 4 portions
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 cup superfine cornmeal
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon celery salt
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
- 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
- Peanut Oil or Lard for frying
- Preheat oven to 200°F and line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil and a wire rack (this will help keep your fried catfish warm while cooking in batches).
- Place catfish fillets in a large casserole dish or shallow bowl, add the buttermilk, and gently agitate the fillets until each is completely submerged or covered.
- Place cornmeal, flour, salt, celery salt, garlic powder, black pepper, paprika, cayenne, and dry mustard in another casserole dish or shallow bowl, and stir to combine.
- Dip the catfish, one piece at a time, in the cornmeal mixture, making sure to thoroughly coat. Gently shake off any excess and set aside while you bread the remaining fillets.
- Fill a large, high-sided skillet or dutch oven with approximately 1-inch of oil or lard. Warm over high-heat until the temperature reaches 350°F.
- Carefully place 1-2 fillets in the skillet, working in batches to keep the oil nice and hot, and fry for 5-6 minutes, carefully flipping the fillets halfway through, or until golden brown and cooked through.
- Transfer the fried catfish to the prepared baking sheet and wire rack and place in the preheated oven while you fry another batch.
- Serve the catfish hot with your favorite condiments! We love tartar sauce, cocktail sauce, or a simple squeeze of lemon.
Rounding out your Catfish Fry
There are several tasty sides you can offer as an accompaniment to your fried catfish. Traditionally, fried potatoes, rice, hush puppies, and/or coleslaw are served as a side. And, don’t forget the sweet tea!
Store any leftover fried catfish in a sealable container, making sure to cool the fillets completely before refrigerating. Everything should keep for about 2-3 days. To reheat, line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil and, then, line with a large wire rack. Lightly spritz the wire rack with non-stick spray, place the catfish fillets about 1 to 2-inches apart and bake at 400°F until reheated and crispy.
This recipe does make a hefty bunch of fried fish, perfect for those looking to meal plan or wanting to serve less than the 4 servings this recipe accommodates. Like the refrigerated leftovers, once fried, let the fish cool completely. Line another baking sheet with parchment paper or wax paper, add your cooked-cooled catfish to the prepared baking sheet, about 1-inch apart, and place in the freezer. Once frozen (about 1-2 hours) remove the fried fish from the baking sheet, and transfer to a zipper baggie. These frozen catfish fillets will keep for a couple of months. Simply bake (using the wire rack method above) until reheated and crispy (about 20-25 minutes).
We Never Catfish our Catfish!
Yes, indeed! Your satisfaction is our primary goal and we never, ever, sell imitation or inferior substitutes. You want catfish, you’ll receive the tastiest, freshest, and most sustainable seafood from Maryland’s most trusted seafood company! Buy catfish online and receive fast delivery, from the dock to your door, on the date you choose. Click here to explore our featured Catfish Fillets as well as our extensive catalog of amazing fish and shellfish.
About the author
Patterson Watkins is a professional chef with over 17 years of experience. With a robust career in restaurants, contract dining and catering (including 4 Summer Olympic posts preparing food for the athletes!) Patterson joined the Cameron’s Seafood team at the end of 2018 to concoct some delicious recipes with our premium seafood items as the centerpiece.