Monday, September 11, 2006

Fish Fry

The first time I can remember being aware of catfish, or of people frying it, was when I was 7 years old. We were visiting my aunt Jeannie in Vermont and went fishing. I caught 7 trout and my mom caught several trout and a couple of catfish. The catfish were so ugly, even somewhat frightening, that I couldn't believe my mom would eat them! Worse, she had fried catfish for breakfast!!!

I spent the rest of my younger years avoiding catfish scrupulously. The opportunity to eat them, frankly, didn't arise much. It wasn't until I was living in Nashville that I tried fried catfish for the first time. My then-partner & I were seated at a table right by Merle Haggard's table in Uncle Bud's. I decided that since Uncle Bud's specialized in catfish, it would behoove me to try it. I loved it. I have since learned to make it, not as well as they do at Uncle Bud's, but not too badly, either. Last night, when my beloved indicated that she would just as soon not have Jamaican beef patties and when my oldest said, "No, thank you" when I said that's what was for dinner, I decided to fry up some catfish. Neither child liked it & they chose to eat the enormous chicken breast we had baked as a precautionary measure. However, we adults quite enjoyed our dinner. We had the fish with just-shucked sweet corn and spicy steak fries. J made Ghirardelli brownies, as well. Mmm. This recipe feeds a bunch of people, but you can always cut it down. Just make sure you keep the proportions right.

Fried Catfish
3 eggs, beaten
Salt & pepper
Dash of cayenne
1/2 c. milk
2 c. flour
2 c. cornmeal
24 catfish fillets
Oil for frying

Mix together the eggs, salt, pepper, cayenne and milk. Put in a shallow dish. Mix the flour & cornmeal together. Dip the fish pieces in the milk mixture, then dredge in the flour mixture. Shake off the excess batter, then fry. You can deep fry it at 350 degrees until the fish is golden, about 5 minutes, or you can fry it in a skillet, flipping after the first side is golden. You want to make sure you drain it on a paper-towel-lined plate before serving it, either way.

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