It’s now August and with the heat of summer bearing down it can put a damper on fishing for a lot of species, but not the wily catfish. I can’t think of a more summer-time fish, maybe the Largemouth Bass but we will get to him another time. Catfish are super active this time of year, and with a handful of night crawlers, a light tackle spinning outfit, a few bobbers or sliding sinkers and hooks, catching these cats can be a blast. Finding a creek or small river with some current and a decent sized hole may be all it takes to fill the plate.
Step one: Get yourself some catfish!
Taylor with a couple eater sized cats
Step two: Cleaning your catch
I fillet catfish just like any other fish. To make things easier I clip the dorsal and pectoral spines in fins at the base with clippers; This allows the fish to lay flat on the board. Make your first cut behind the gill plate, then run your knife along the spine. Once past the ribs, poke your knife all the way through the belly and continue along the spine to the tail. Then remove the skin by running the knife with moderate pressure at a slight angle along the skin. Rinse the fillets with cold water and set aside in the fridge.
Step three: Gather ingredients you will need…
For the cooking part:
- 1-2 lbs of catfish fillets cut into strips or chunks (1 lb 6 tacos, 2 lbs 12 tacos)
- One can of red kidney beans (one can will be enough for 2 lbs of catfish)
- Worcestershire sauce
- chili powder
- garlic powder
- onion powder
- cayenne powder
- canola oil
- hard taco shells or soft tortillas or both
For the toppings :
- sour cream
- small bowl of shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- small bowl of chopped or shredded lettuce
- small bowl of diced tomato
- bowl of guacamole or Wholeamole
Make toppings and set on dinner table now so you can enjoy your meal when it’s still hot.
Step four: Cooking the kidney beans
Open can of beans and drain excess water out. Pour can of beans into small saucepan. Set on stove on med heat, and spice with a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce, a squirt or two of ketchup, a dash or two of chili powder and paprika. Once good and steamy-hot turn down heat to low and keep warm until serving time.
Step five: Heat taco shells
Set oven or toaster oven to 350. Place hard shells on baking sheet or foil. Cook until golden-crispy. Soft shells, wrap in foil and cook until hot.
Step six: Cooking the catfish
Grab a large mixing bowl or Tupperware container (gallon ziplock bag works too) and make your fish breading:
- 1 cup of corn meal
- Tbsp of chili powder
- Tbsp of paprika
- Tbsp of garlic powder
- Tbsp of onion powder
- Tsp of cayenne powder
Mix it all up..
(for 2 lbs of catfish, repeat recipe instead of doubling to prevent caking and fry 1 lb at a time. )
Next cut your catfish fillets into equal sized small chunks or strips about 3 inches long. Now you will need a large frying pan. Pour in enough canola oil to cover the bottom of the pan and set on med high heat. As the the oil is heating up, throw some catfish in your breading and coat thoroughly. Some tips on frying fish …
- Make sure your fillets are moist but not soaking wet for the breading to stick to.
- Add fish to breading a few pieces at a time or breading will become caked.
- Do not put fish in the pan until the oil is hot or fish will become soggy.
- Do not let oil become too hot before adding fish or it will burn.
- Do not flip fish too early. Make sure it’s crispy on the oil side before flipping.
- Remove fish from pan while oil is still hot.
Test the oil to make sure it’s hot enough with a piece of fish. Once sizzling, add your breaded catfish to the pan and fry on med high. I flip the fish twice on each side-more than that and the fish starts to fall apart. Cook fish until golden crispy-brown. Remove fish from pan and place on plate covered with paper towel .
Step seven: Fill your taco shells with catfish, beans and toppings.
1 lb of catfish fillets will make about 6 tacos, feeds 2-3
2 lbs of catfish fillets will make about 12 tacos, feeds 4-6
Photography by Saxton and Taylor
All photograpry in this article is property of saxtonoutdoors.com