Catfish were readily abundant in the Antebellum South and, due to their status as "bottom feeders," weren't deemed the most stylish dinner staples. Once the South's seafood secret, mild-flavored catfish has gained popularity nation-wide. Simply soak the catfish in milk for an hour before frying to eliminate any leftover fishy taste. The cornmeal crust creates a perfect light and crispy texture.
Technique tip: The catfish is done when most of the bubbling stops and the fillets begin to float.
Swap option: You can use any mild-flavored white fish.
Tartar Sauce (makes 2 cups)
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon dill pickle
- 1 tablespoon minced chives or 1 teaspoon dried chives
- 2 teaspoons grated onion
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 dash paprika
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Tabasco sauce, to taste
- Six 4- to 6-ounce catfish fillets
- 2 cups milk
- 2 cups yellow cornmeal
- 1 tablespoon seasoned salt
- 2 teaspoons pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Vegetable oil, for frying
- 12 large russet potatoes
- Canola oil, for frying
- Salt, to taste
For the tartar sauce:
Combine all ingredients thoroughly and chill before serving.
For the fish:
1. Place catfish fillets in a single layer in a shallow dish; cover with milk. Cover and chill 1 hour.
2. Combine cornmeal and next 4 ingredients in a shallow dish.
3. Remove catfish fillets from refrigerator, and let stand at room temperature 10 minutes. Remove from milk, allowing excess to drip off. Sprinkle evenly with 1 teaspoon salt.
4. Dredge catfish fillets in cornmeal mixture, shaking off excess.
5. Pour oil to depth of 1½ inches into a large skillet; heat to 350°F.
6. Fry fillets, in batches, about 3-4 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Drain on wire racks over paper towels.
For the chips:
1. Peel the potatoes and cut them into approximately 5/8 inch thick chips. Store them in water.
2. Fill a large pot halfway with the oil or fill a deep fat fryer with oil. Heat to 275°F. Thoroughly drain the chips and add them to the oil working in batches to avoid overcrowding the pan. Fry the chips until they are soft enough to squeeze by not yet browned, about 10 minutes. Once all the chips have been blanched, spread them on a sheet tray and store them in a fridge overnight.
3. When ready to serve, heat the oil to 375°F and fry the blanched chips in batches if necessary until golden brown and crispy on the outside and still fluffy on the inside, about 5 minutes. Drain on a paper towel-lined plate and season with salt to taste.
Serve the fish and chips hot with tartar sauce on the side.