Catfish is a healthy, lean fish that provides a good source of protein and omega-3 fats. Fried catfish has the added bonus of flavor from its crisp breading. Although deep frying adds calories, you can make a healthier version of this Southern favorite by avoiding the fatty fried options and using a lower-calorie oil like canola, vegetable, or peanut.
For the best fried catfish, marinate the fillets in buttermilk before dredging and frying. This will permeate the fish with flavor, eliminate any unwanted flavors or odors and keep it moist after frying. The buttermilk will also help the coating adhere to the fish more effectively. CHEF TIP: Adding a teaspoon of Lawry’s seasoning, Old Bay or lemon pepper seasoning to the flour mixture will give your fish an extra kick of spice. A pinch of garlic powder or paprika is also nice for some extra flavor.
Heat 2 inches of oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot, such as a Dutch oven, to 350 degrees over medium high heat. A higher temperature will ensure a crispier fish, but be careful not to overcrowd the pot. You can test the oil’s readiness by dropping a pinch of flour into it. If it sizzles and bubbles, the oil is hot enough to begin frying.
Working in batches to avoid crowding, gently add a few catfish fillets to the oil. Fry until golden brown on the bottom, 3-4 minutes. Then carefully flip and fry until golden brown on the other side, another 3-4 minutes. Remove the fried catfish to a wire rack set over a newspaper-lined half sheet pan to absorb excess oil while they continue to cook.