The Correct Way To Fry Catfish, According To Chef Rodney Scott

Depending on where you live, when you envision tucking into a perfectly cooked plate of fried fish with all the fixings, you may be thinking of flaky cod, haddock, or any number of white fish typically used for a hearty plate of fish and chips. If you're from the South, however, there's another fish that might come to mind immediately — catfish.

Per American Press, catfish is a Southern staple. However, if you didn't grow up on catfish, you may not be too much familiar with the flavorful fish and how to cook it. Luckily, there are a few experts willing to share their tips and tricks, including chef Rodney Scott. Given that he co-founded Rodney Scott's BBQ, Scott is obviously best known for his skills on the grill — however, he also knows his way around Southern cuisine, and he based his go-to catfish recipe on what he remembers his grandmother doing when he was a kid, as Thrillist reports.

While you might reach for the flour or whisk up batter for most fried fish dishes, Scott opts for fine ground cornmeal as the ideal coating for crispy catfish, enhanced with a handful of spices, of course, including cayenne pepper, for that kick of heat. Once you have your breaded catfish ready to go, make sure your oil is the right temperature. For an easy test, Scott suggests simply tossing a small pinch of the cornmeal into the oil. If it starts sizzling, you can begin adding your catfish. But that's not all.

A few more tips for perfectly fried catfish

Even if your catfish is perfectly seasoned and coated with just the right amount of cornmeal, it won't be a crispy delight if you don't fry it perfectly, which is why Rodney Scott shared a few tips for the actual cooking process with Thrillist, as well. First, even if you're cooking for a crowd or trying to get dinner on the table quickly, resist the urge to overcrowd your pan and toss too many breaded catfish pieces in at once. You might think it's going to be quicker, but in all actuality, adding too much will cause the temperature of the oil to drop from that perfect range. If the cornmeal test is a little too flexible for your liking, know that Scott recommends around 350 to 365 degrees Fahrenheit for fried chicken, according to Parade, so catfish is likely in the same range.

As for how to tell when it's done, Scott has another easy cue that will not require you to reach for a thermometer with which to poke and prod your catfish. Instead, just check out where it's situated in the pan — Scott says that when the catfish begins to float a bit in the oil, it should be good to remove (and enjoy!).

Scott's prowess with catfish is legendary, with the Charleston City Paper calling the chef's fried catfish "honestly outstanding," so by following his tips and tricks, you too should be able to create a mouthwatering plate of fried catfish.