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Fish for Friday, fish for Friday.

Yeah, it's been Lent for a while.  But I love fish whether it's Lent or not Lent.  And here's my dirty secret: I love smoked and steamed fish.  I love fish cooked in various Latin tomato sauces.  I love grilled fish.  I love sushi.

But I really love fried catfish.  Like, a lot. 

That said, I eat it really seldom.  It makes a mess of the kitchen.  It's caloric, fatty, and has few redeeming social values.  But damn, it's good, and it makes my husband incredibly happy.  There are a million ways to fry the stuff (and I've discovered you can even grill it to good effect, but I always feel just a little sad when I do that).  Mostly you want stone ground cornmeal, sea salt, a good shake of hot sauce in whatever you moisten the fish with before dipping it in the meal and frying (buttermilk or egg  yolk--both work). And hot enough oil.  If you don't have a deep fryer, use a dutch oven, and please buy a deep fry thermometer. You're aiming for about 360 degrees, and PS, don't crowd the fish in the pan. WATCH ANYTHING YOU ARE DEEP FRYING OVER AN OPEN FLAME SUPER CAREFULLY.  You really, really don't want it too hot. Hot enough for a nice crust, but nothing too much OVER 360.  Ker-blooie, for real. Seriously, and obviously. 

I've also done fried catfish in a plain old cast iron fry pan with a generous amount of oil and a little butter in, and had good results without deep frying.  Keep the flame up enough to crust the fish, but not hot enough to burn the butter.

Ah, but the point of catfish is having it with tartar sauce.  Insult to injury in terms of nutrition, but what the hell.  PUT AWAY THE JARRED STUFF FROM THE SUPERMARKET!  That is full of terrible things.  Make your own damn tartar sauce.

ALL PURPOSE TARTAR SAUCE (This is stupidly easy)

Combine 1 cup of Hellman's (or Best Foods if you're West) Mayo

and two tablespoons of any combo of the following:

sweet pickle relish--like the chopped stuff for burgers

green stuffed olives, chopped up

nasty canned black olives that you wouldn't use for anything else (actually good here), chopped up

drained capers (I think these are necessary, but if you used olives, taste for salt first)


a shake of dried dillweed or a tablespoon or so of snipped fresh

and/or a tablespoon of chopped fresh parsley

a shake of hot sauce

a grind of black pepper


YOU MAY want to thin it a little with a splash of buttermilk.  Or not.

VOILA.  Eat it with your catfish.  I swear I will post a healthier recipe next week.  Meanwhile, it's Friday the 31st of March and I'm on the air at 3 PM. 




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