Image by El Destructo via FlickrFrom Denny: This is so Louisiana and can be found in any grocery store that runs a plate lunch deli and other small mom and pop eateries. Louisiana raises a lot of catfish on "farms" just like we raise crawfish. Actually, they are ponds but farms are what most people call them.
Here is a good basic version from CBS' Chow.com though in Louisiana we would spice it up, often putting hot Tabasco pepper sauce on it to eat.
1/2 cup finely ground yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup cake flour
2 teaspoons ground cayenne pepper
(From Denny: we often use a spice blend of Cajun seasonings like Emeril's or Chachere's. It includes lots of garlic and onion powder, paprika, salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper and sometimes other spices depending upon the brand. It isn't catfish around here without lots of garlic in the seasoning!)
1 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 cups vegetable oil for frying
2 pounds catfish fillets, cut into 3- to 4-ounce strips
Combine cornmeal, flour, cayenne, paprika, salt, and pepper in a shallow dish and a whisk to thoroughly combine.
Heat vegetable oil over medium heat in a 12-inch cast iron skillet to 350°F. Line a plate with several layers of paper towels; set aside.
Use a paper towel to blot the fish pieces dry, season on all sides with salt and freshly ground black pepper, then dredge them in the cornmeal mixture, being sure to cover all sides. Tap fish pieces lightly to shake off excess.
Fry fish in batches, turning once, until deep golden brown and crisp on the outside with a flaky interior, about 6 minutes total.
Remove fish from the pan with a slotted spatula to the paper-towel-lined plate to drain, and while it’s still hot, season well with salt. Serve with lemon wedges and rémoulade.
Note: If you don’t have cake flour on hand, all-purpose can be used though the results won’t be quite as crispy.
From Denny: Even though fried catfish is a working man's dish, finer French sauces still exist here and are made daily as expected side offerings. Don't even get me started on how much people around here in Louisiana love their potato salad!
Rémoulade is a mayonnaise loaded with flavor. Originally created in France but common in Creole cooking, it is made with Louisiana-style hot sauce, capers, and tarragon; we added Worcestershire and bell pepper. Though it is normally served with fried-fish dishes such as our Cornmeal Fried Catfish, we also like it with boiled shellfish or mixed into a potato salad.
What to buy: Use the freshest eggs you can find.
2 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon Louisiana-style hot sauce, such as Tabasco
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper
2 teaspoons minced capers
2 teaspoons minced shallots
1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh tarragon
1 teaspoon minced fresh Italian parsley
2 teaspoons minced red bell pepper
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk egg yolks and Dijon mustard until eggs are broken up and evenly blended. Continue whisking and slowly add oil by pouring it down the side of the bowl in a thin stream.
Once all the oil is added, whisk in Tabasco, Worcestershire, lemon juice, salt, and pepper until well incorporated.
Mix in capers, shallots, tarragon, parsley, and 1 teaspoon of the red bell pepper until blended. Garnish with the remaining bell pepper and serve.