Wednesday, August 26, 2009

What a Catch!

We have a winner! But (sadly) it's not my turn to announce this week's
lucky prize winner. Do keep checking back to see who it is. Also, don't
forget to enter our Williams-Sonoma contest every week. There are
only a few more chances to win!

Cornmeal Fried Catfish

When my next door neighbor was painting
his living room, he asked my husband if he
would babysit, or rather fish-sit, his fish of
unknown origin for him until the room was

done. That was a year and a half ago and
the fish of unknown origin is still living on top
of our piano, blowing bubbles and waving

his fins at me. My husband has grown very
fond of him. Me, not so
much. Although, he's
growing on me, as much as anything with a brain the size of sesame seed
can grow on you. The neighbor does not seem to have any interest in
having him
back, although I have hinted repeatedly to him and anyone else
who enters my home, that we'd be more than willing to part with him.
No takers. Hmm.

When I am particularly annoyed by him, as annoyed as you can be
by a fish of unknown origin, or more accurately, the husband who
dribbles water on the piano when filling up
the fish's tank, I decide it
is time for a fish fry. The fish usually knows this is a good time to beat
fins behind the fake foliage in his tank. Okay, maybe his brain is bigger
than a sesame seed after all.

The fish of unknown origin: Shark or Catfish?
If you can identify it, please let me know. I'm stumped.

There is something joyous about pulling out my Cool Daddy Deep Fryer,

filling it to the max line with oil and setting it at 340 degrees. I don't
care who you are: fried=yummy. I mean, why else do I wait all year with
drooling anticipation to see what they're frying up at this year's state
fair? Did anyone else try the chicken fried bacon last year? How about
the chocolate covered strawberry waffle balls? Again, I repeat,


Cornmeal Fried Catfish:

4 (6 oz) catfish fillets
1 slightly beaten egg
1 cup corn meal
2 tbspn flour
1 tbspn rock salt
1 tspn black pepper
1 tspn cayenne pepper

I use my Cool Daddy for this recipe, but I have read recipes where
they use bacon drippings, too.

Mix the dry ingredients in a gallon sized plastic bag, set aside.
Rinse the catfish fillets, then coat with the slightly beaten egg, put the

fillet in the plastic bag and shake until thoroughly coated. Put the corn
meal encrusted fillet into the oil (carefully) and cook for 3-4 minutes.
Drain on a paper towel.

*For my sons, I dice up their fillets and serve them cornmeal encrusted
catfish nuggets. There have never been any leftovers!

Cornmeal Catfish nuggets. YUM!

Jenn McKinlay SPRNKLE WITH MURDER -- March 2010
(aka Lucy Lawrence -- STUCK ON MURDER -- Sept 2009)
For more recipes and information visit:


  1. It doesn't get any better than fried catfish. I grew up in the south and it's their specialty. Unfortunately at that time, they tasted muddy just like the Mississippi where they most likely came from. Catfish has come a long way since then. Great that your kids like it too.

    The fish in your tank looks like a catfish to me because of the whiskers. It's not a shark, or at least not one I've ever seen. Personally I prefer tropical fish in a tank, but then again I don't have your neighbor.

  2. A mystery fish! Perfect for this blog.

    My kids recently went to Memphis and loved catching catfish! They pulled in some whoppers, too. Thanks for the great idea on preparing them.


  3. Whoa, I'm suddenly starving for fried foods and it's still morning. Making do with a cup of coffee and toast just isn't going to cut it today.

    Love the fish story. What's his name?


  4. Fried foods do sound good, Julie. Thanks for sharing Riley. I'll hae to figure out a gluten-free crust for me. I'll let you know what i come up with. In the meantime, I'll make do with my typical GF toast, slice of yummy cheese and jam, which happens to be my protagonist's favorite breakfast. Say Cheese!

  5. My husband loves catfish. There is a restaurant near us that serves a spicy catfish that he loves. Since I am originally from NY, I am not allowed to use ingredients like cornmeal. I am not allowed to fry chicken, use okra or make cornbread.

    Your unwanted pet might be a bit too small for a fish-fry.

  6. Among personal exchanges with the Orf family, whenever the opprtunity to say "Why, that's a fine kettle of fish!", I will substitute, "Why, that's a fish of unknown origin!"

    word/phrase hounds will find this info interesting, kinda...

  7. An elderly Southern cook I knew loved to fry catfish and it was heavenly. I'm guessing his recipe was something like yours. Hmm, may have to invest in a Cool Daddy!

  8. Hi Jenn - Your post reminds me of that old saying of Ben Franklin's. You know the one about house guests and fish having about the same expiration date? Clearly you have a fishy house gest. (Ohhhh - sorry...)

    Anyway, can't help you with the name-that-fish game, but I do love the recipe. (Anything with cornmeal makes me happy, happy.) And I feel your pain over that soggy piano!

    "Where coffee and crime are always brewing..."

  9. This fish came with a companion, one of those tank cleaning type fishes, so we used to call them (okay, I used to call them) STUPID SHARK AND DUMB SUCKER, but since SUCKER died, it doesn't have the same ring to it. So, now it's just the Fish Of Unknown Origin Without A Name. FOUOWAN for short?

  10. Tom-

    I love the link to!
    I suppose I should be happy I don't have
    a "quintal of fish", eh?


  11. I love good fried fish, but don't fix it at home. Frying foods just makes too much of a mess. We used to help with the fish fry at church and really enjoyed those dinners. When we lived up north and could go ice fishing for yellow perch, we would fillet them and pan fry them.
    I don't think your fish is a shark. Have you gone to your local pet store to look for some that look like yours?