Before I had to give up gluten/wheat for health reasons, fried catfish was one of my reasons for getting out of bed each morning. Even if I knew I wouldn’t be having any that particular day, I knew fried catfish still existed in the world and that was enough for me.
When I had to walk away from wheat, I had to walk away from most restaurant’s fried catfish because they included flour in the coating, which meant they were anything but gluten free. Fortunately, I know that fried catfish doesn’t need flour, so I can fry my own thank you very much.
And I do. OFTEN.
Like most home cooks, my favorite tried and true recipes often change a little – for example, one night I may want to add fennel to the seasonings while another night that sounds like a crazy train idea. I also vary with other seasonings and spices, including garlic powder and cayenne pepper.
The following recipe is my “framework” recipe for fried catfish, meaning that when you make your own, feel free to add more of this or less of that – make it suit your own tastes. The constants are the fish, eggs, milk, cornmeal, and salt. I also personally think seasoned salt is a must, but that’s just me… and, no adding seasoned salt plus Kosher salt isn’t too much salt. Seasoned salt is a favorite seasoning of mine – it just adds a certain something that floats my boat.
Something else that floats my boat is Old Bay Seasoning. Anytime I’m making fish or shrimp, I automatically reach for it. The flavor combination is stunning.
Cornmeal makes fried fish delicious and crunchy!
While you can (in fact, sometimes I DO) add 1/4 gluten free flour (rice flour works beautifully with fried fish) to the cornmeal – the cornmeal does a first class job all by itself. When it comes to fried fish, I want it to be purely fried fish. That is to say I don’t want it reminding me of fried chicken! I’ve had a lot of fried catfish in restaurants that looked and tasted kind of like fried chicken.
That’s a hard NO from me!
Gluten Free Fried Catfish with Jalapeno Tartar Sauce
If you season the fried catfish enough, it really doesn’t have to have any tartar sauce or freshly squeezed lemon – but they are delicious accompaniments. I almost always use the Barefoot Contessa’s Tartar Sauce recipe because it is the best I’ve found. When I’m craving a little something different, I leave out the capers her recipe calls for and add chopped jalapenos (from a jar) along with a little extra salt.