Catfish, one of the most popular foods in the South, is most often eaten fried with hush puppies. There are around 2,000 species of catfish, whose name (probably due to the whiskers) first appeared in print in 1612. North America has 28 species of catfish, over a dozen of which are eaten. The most popular edible catfish are the "channel catfish," the "white catfish" and "blue catfish."
In the South, catfish are raised on fish farms (about 90 percent in Mississippi) and are sold fresh or frozen. About 60 percent are grown within a 65-mile radius of Belzoni, Mississippi, the self-proclaimed Catfish Capital Of The World.
Hush puppies are a favorite accompaniment to fried catfish and are often served with other types of fried fish. Also known as corn dodgers, hush puppies are deep-fried little cornmeal breads. The popular legend surrounding the hush puppy takes us back to Civil War days. Southerners would sit beside a campfire, preparing their meals. If Yankee soldiers came near, they would toss their barking dogs some of the fried cakes with the command Hush, puppies.
Catfish can be used in any recipe calling for a white non-oily fish, but most Southerners prefer it dredged in cornmeal and fried, with hush puppies, coleslaw, fries, and ketchup. According to Craig Claiborne, author of Craig Claiborne's Southern Cooking, Deep-fried catfish without ketchup is like a hot dog without mustard.
Catfish and Related Fish Recipes
- How to Make Classic Southern Fried Catfish: A basic recipe for fried catfish fillets with buttermilk and a cornmeal coating mixture.
- Cajun Seasoned Beer Battered Fried Fish: These bite-size fish nuggets are battered and fried to perfection. They make fantastic fish tacos! (pictured)
- Pan Fried Catfish: This simple method works on the stovetop or over a campfire.
- Basic Deep Fried Catfish Fillets With Hush Puppies: Deep fried with a classic cornmeal coating.
- Simple Grilled Catfish: Catfish fillets are grilled with just a few simple seasonings.
- Baked Lemon Catfish in Foil: The catfish is baked in foil with lemon and vegetables.
- Baked Stuffed Catfish Fillets: A savory bread crumb stuffing fills these baked catfish fillets.
- Cajun Fish Courtbouillon: Serve this fabulous Cajun court-bouillon with French bread.
- Catfish Chowder with Bacon and Tomatoes: This chowder is a delicious tomato based soup with chunks of catfish.
- Baked Panko Crusted Fish: These easy fish fillets are baked, not fried.
- Easy Fried Fish Fillets: Basic "fish 'n chips" style fried fish fillets.
- How To Make Southern Hush Puppies: A simple version of this classic fried bread.
- Basic Hush Puppies with Green Onion: Green onions are often added to hush puppy batter.
- Easy Hush Puppies With Cream-Style Corn: These hush puppies are surprisingly easy to mix, and they're made without eggs. A can of cream style corn provides all the moisture you need.
- Deep Fried Southern Hush Puppies: These hush puppies are made with self-rising cornmeal mix, along with sweet milk and finely chopped green onion.
- Beer Batter Hush Puppies: Use a light or dark beer to make these delicious hush puppies.
- Corn Oysters: These deep-fried corn oysters are fluffy little corn fritters that would be delicious with any meal.
- Basic Corn Fritters: If you don't care for the texture of hush puppies, omit the sugar in these fritters and serve them with your catfish, or try these corn and bacon fritters.