Fish Fry

There is an art form to frying catfish. And any Southerner who knows good catfish also knows there are three crucial components: the slice, the soak, and the seasoning. If your filets are always curling on you, it's because of the way it's sliced. Try to make your pieces an even thickness so thin ends don't overcook before the centers are done. Don't skip the soak. Leaving fish pieces to swim around in buttermilk beforehand neutralizes the "fishy" odor that comes with catfish while also removing any lingering muddy flavors. But the most essential element is seasoning your fry batter. This recipe has the perfect ratio of savory and spicy, which separates a "meh" catfish fry from a crowd-wowing one. Serve the fish with a side of Alabama Hush Puppies for the ultimate pairing.

Active Time:
15 mins
Total Time:
20 mins
Serves 2 (serving size: about 5 pieces)


  • 1 pound catfish fillets, cut into 3-in. pieces

  • 1 1/2 cups whole buttermilk

  • 1 cup fine yellow cornmeal

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt

  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

  • 1 teaspoon paprika

  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • Canola oil, for frying

  • Lemon wedges, for serving


  1. Place fish and buttermilk in a large ziplock plastic bag. Seal, removing as much air as possible. Refrigerate 1 hour.

  2. Stir together cornmeal, flour, salt, pepper, paprika, and cayenne in a shallow dish. Pour oil to a depth of 2 inches in a large Dutch oven; heat to 350ºF over medium-high.

  3. Working with 1 piece at a time, remove fish from buttermilk, and dredge in cornmeal mixture.

  4. Working in 2 batches, fry fish until golden brown and cooked through, about 5 minutes, turning as needed. Drain fish on a plate lined with paper towels. Serve with lemon wedges.

    Fish Fry
    Caitlin Bensel
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