Key Ingredient

Mom’s Fried Catfish with Hot Sauce

By: Hannah Lee Leidy

Food Culture of the South

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Serves 4

  • 2 cups whole buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons worcestershire
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce
  • plus more for serving (recipe follows or use store-bought)
  • ¼ teaspoon granulated garlic,¼ teaspoon granulated onion
  • 4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • divided
  • 1½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • divided
  • 1½ pounds catfish fillets
  • cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 cups plain yellow cornmeal
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne
  • 4 cups vegetable oil
  • 1-2 lemons
  • cut into wedges
  • for serving
  1. In a large bowl or zip-top plastic freezer bag, combine buttermilk, worcestershire, hot sauce, granulated garlic, granulated onion, and 1 teaspoon each of the salt and black pepper. Add catfish pieces; cover or seal and refrigerate for 2 to 8 hours.
  2. In a shallow dish or pie pan, whisk together cornmeal, cayenne, and remaining salt and black pepper.
  3. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Remove catfish from buttermilk mixture and dredge in cornmeal. Set aside for 5 minutes.
  4. Fry catfish in batches, starting with the largest pieces, until golden brown, about 5 to 7 minutes per side. Drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Serve with hot sauce and lemon wedges.


Hot Sauce

Makes ¾ cup

2 teaspoons blended olive oil
1 red Fresno chile, stemmed and coarsely chopped
1 jalapeño chile, stemmed and coarsely chopped
½ small yellow onion, diced
3 garlic cloves
½ cup apple cider vinegar
¼ cup red wine vinegar
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon kosher salt

  1. Heat oil in a stockpot over medium heat. Add chiles, onion, and garlic; cook, stirring often, until tender, about 6 to 8 minutes. Add the vinegars and red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes. Stir in salt and remove from heat. Let stand 20 minutes.
  2. Process chile mixture in a blender or food processor until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides. (Remove the center of the blender top to prevent the mixture from overflowing; be wary of inhaling the pepper vapors).

If you really like Fried Catfish, I’m sure you’ll love Fried Crab too!

  • From Todd Richards, the Soulful Company Restaurant Group, Atlanta

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