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Can You Eat a Catfish?

Yes, you can indeed consume catfish. With many types of varieties, different parts of the world are home to numerous types of catfish. They are a popular choice to eat and very easy to fillet.

The questions like, whether to consume it or not, where to catch a catfish, what are the benefits of eating a catfish, how does it look like, where does it like, how to cook it are some of the common ones in everyone’s mind. Once you get to know the numerous benefits that catfish have to offer as a food, you will not have second thoughts on your mind whether to eat it or not. You can see what a catfish fillet looks like in the picture above.

Catfish Basic Details

Catfish are carnivores since they feed on fish, insects, and other types of small sea animals. They are usually found in the bottom levels of the sea. There is a different type of fish classification based on its physiology; catfish belong to the ray-finned type. There are more than 3000 varieties of catfish found on the planet. There is a connection of the swimming bladder to the auditory system of the fish which makes it produce a distinct sound. 

  • There are some species of catfish that produce poison in the dorsal region of its body. This can cause serious injury in the body of human beings. 
  • The Asian catfish can walk on the ground using its fins and the front region of the body. They do this motion to move from one pool to another. 
  • Certain types of catfish can live up to 8 to 20 years. The catfish deson’t have scales and are filled with mucus. They breathe through their skin. 

How Does Catfish taste?

Catfish poses a variety of different tastes depending on where they live and what they consume. Different types of catfish reside in different parts of the world. The catfish that are found in the Southeast Asian region have a very mild taste. 

In the North American region, the catfish is also called muddy fish for it has a taste that is very similar to mud. It is said that the catfish are partially blind and they cannot have a clear view of what they are consuming and they tend to eat whatever comes their way. So, a lot of mud goes into their body. 

There are very fewer flakes in the catfish when compared to any other fishes and they have a very smooth exterior. So, you need not meddle with the bones while you are consuming the catfish. 

Certain types of catfish taste very mild and it goes well with all types of main course dishes ranging from burgers, pizzas to another cuisine. 

There is a startling difference between the taste of the catfish that grows in the natural water body sources and the ones which are farm fed. The farm fed fishes have a very consistent taste as they are fed the same type of grains throughout the year. They taste like just any normal fish. Also, the muddy flavor of catfish is too high during summers as the catfish tend to reside near the mud to keep themselves cool. 

The catfish that are farmed, swim in the clear waters and they have a mild taste and it is sweeter towards both the ends. 

How to Clean and Prepare a Catfish

Cleaning the catfish requires you to first get the right set of equipment. The things you might consider very trivial are sometimes the ones that give you the right cut. 

Always use a glove when you are cleaning the catfish for, they have a lot of fins and cat-like whiskers. To not hurt your fingers, it is better to wear a pair. 

Use proper plywood based cutting board for cutting the catfish. It is not preferred to use the granite or any stone-based cutting board for cutting purposes. 

An antibacterial soap must be used for cleaning the board. Also, the knives must be disinfected as well before using it. 

The catfish need to be alive by immediately dropping them into a huge pool of water or you need to store them in ice. If you fail to do either one of these, the final output doesn’t turn out as fresh. A strong pungent smell continues to haunt the area even after finishing the meal if the catfish is kept dead for too long. 

You need to draw a line using a sharp knife as to where the dorsal fin ends and the pelvic fin begins. Also, draw a line on the spine which helps in the process of removal of the skin. 

Before you start drawing the fish into fillets, it is very much important to remove the skin of the fish. Once the skin has been removed off, it can be cut into fillets. There are no scales in the fish. So, you need not worry regarding the cleaning of the scales which is a very tiring process. When you remove the head and tail region of the fish, all the non-edible part just gets removed. The cat-like whiskers are in the head region and the fin is too hard. 

Once you cut the fin near the tail, a lot of blood just flows out. Wait till you get rid of the large quantity of blood inside the body of the fish. 

The reddish streak of flesh in the fillet region of the fish is what provides the muddy taste. This has to be removed if you wish to get rid of that muddy taste. 

Also, after cutting the fish into fillets, it is better to keep them in salt water for some time to get rid of the muddy taste as well. 

If you wish to store the fillets, then you need to choose the right ziplock bag. Keep the fish inside the bag and pour some quantity of water, like 1 cm above the surface of the fish. Seal the cover making sure that there is no air inside it. Freeze them at high temperatures. 

How to Cook a Catfish

Catfish is one of the most commonly consumed fish in the Northern part of America. There are very simple ways of cooking the fish. The fish is loaded with high levels of proteins and is even easy for beginners to cook, for it is very moist and it doesn’t dry out too easily. 

Grilling, baking, frying are some of the most common options:

How to Fry a Catfish:

  • Take a bowl and pour milk into it
  • Store the fillets of the fish in the milk and keep it in the refrigerator for an hour. Take the fish out of the refrigerator and keep it under the running tap water and pat it dry
  • Roll the fillets on a bowl of cornmeal, add salt, pepper and some other spices
  • Fry the fish until the temperature reads 145 degrees in the center of the fish
  • It is suggested to use a good pan for frying the catfish

How to Bake a Catfish:

  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees 
  • Place the baking sheet on to the tray of the oven
  • Keep the fishes on it after coating it with the necessary spices
  • Keep the fish inside the oven until it gets baked fully, preferably 10 minutes for each inch thickness

How to Grill a Catfish:

  • If you wish to grill a catfish, then you need to choose the largely spaced grills
  • Either use a charcoal oven or the gas-fired oven. Preheat for 30 minutes
  • Spray oil on the grill sufficiently and make sure the grill is at least 4 to 6 inches away from the charcoal.
  • You need to cook each side of the fish at least for 6 minutes for it to get cooked completely

How to Deep Fry a Catfish: 

  • Heat oil at high temperature in a thick bottomed vessel. This method is similar to frying the catfish in a pan except that you use a lot of oil and also egg
  • Coat the fish with cornmeal and another type of spices
  • Dip the fish in beaten egg and drop into the hot oil 
  • Make sure the pieces don’t stick to each other for it could get soggy
  • It is wise to use the small thick pieces

What are the Health Benefits of Eating Catfish? 

The catfish is a great source of protein. Unlike meat, where the fat is stored in tiny pockets all over the body, the fat is spread in the form of oil in the fish, which makes it an even healthy option. There are a plethora of health benefits offered by eating catfish. The few different health benefits are listed below:

  • Filled with high levels of protein 

Each serving of catfish has proteins which equal about half the level of proteins in the other types of fishes. They repair the cells of your body. 

  • Aids in weight loss 

As a single serving of catfish itself makes you feel full, it aids in weight loss. 

  • Rich in omega fatty acids 

These are the type of acids that aid in the proper development of the cells of the brain. When you consume catfish regularly, you can see even those with brain disorders curing quickly. 

  • The high amount of Vitamin B12 

The fish has a high amount of Vitamin B12, which is very good for the heart. It also helps in curing problems like anemia. 

  • Good source of healthy fats 

Fats are as essential as proteins are to the body. There is a section of good fat which keeps your body healthy. Catfishes are known to be one of the best sources of good fat. 

Conclusion

From all of the facts and methods stated above, you can see that the catfish are very much edible and can be consume. Some say it is much better to consume the catfish that are grown in the farms vs. the seas or waterbodies, as its dietary pattern is very harsh. Catfish are one of the easiest fishes to clean so you may not need the guidance of a professional fishermen. There are few types of catfish though, which aren’t suitable for consumption, it is better to avoid those.

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Growing up on the south shore of Long Island, Chum Charlie has always had a passion for fishing. His favorite fish to catch is a striped bass and his favorite bait to use is bunker. Off the water, he enjoys blogging and sharing his favorite fishing tips & tricks that he has learned over the years.