Key Ingredient

Caribbean Fried Catfish

By: Hannah Lee Leidy

Food Culture of the South

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Serves 6

  • 1 quart buttermilk
  • 2 shallots
  • julienned
  • 10 garlic cloves
  • smashed
  • 1 bunch thyme
  • ½ cup calabrese oil
  • 4 tablespoons calabrese puree
  • 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
  • 6 tablespoons salt
  • 6 (5- to 6-ounce) catfish filets
  • Oil for frying
  • 4 tablespoons jerk spice mix (recipe below)
  • 4 cups flour

In a bowl, combine buttermilk, shallots, garlic, thyme, calabrese oil, puree, red pepper flakes, and salt and stir to combine. Arrange catfish in a wide, shallow bowl or pie plate; pour brine over fish. Let sit for about 2 hours.

Pour about 1 inch of oil into a deep, heavy skillet or dutch oven and place over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, combine jerk spice mix with flour in a clean pie plate. Take the fish out of the buttermilk and dredge filets in flour mixture to coat thoroughly. Shake off excess flour mixture.

When oil temperature reaches about 325 degrees (use a candy thermometer or drop a pinch of the flour mixture into the oil; if it bubbles and floats, the oil is ready), fry catfish in batches for about 5 to 6 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve with collard greens or a salad.

Jerk Spice Mix

6 tablespoons cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon chili powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoon onion powder
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Store in an airtight container.

  • From Nina Compton, Compère Lapin and Bywater American Bistro, New Orleans, Louisiana

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