World-renowned pro pitmaster and chef Melissa Cookston's new cookbook, Smokin' in the Boys' Room, is exactly what you need to freshen up your grilling repertoire before prime season hits. She's a 3-time world champion, you know. From the cuts of meat you want to eat to sides, marinades and her own time-tested techniques, don't break out the barbecue before digging into this book. Or in this case, the fried fish fixins.
Mississippi farm-raised catfish is the best in the world. I’m not sure why, but I am sure that the folks in the Delta know their catfish. Farm-raised catfish is clean tasting, with a nice flaky texture when cooked correctly, and will compare favorably to much more expensive fish.
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
- 1 tablespoon yellow onion, finely diced
- 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
- pinch of kosher salt
- pinch of black pepper, coarsely ground
- canola oil, for frying
- 2 cups self-rising yellow cornmeal
- 1 tablespoon black pepper, coarsely ground
- 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 4 fillets catfish
- 1 cup buttermilk
- slices of yellow onion or scallions for serving (optional)
- To make the tartar sauce, combine all the ingredients in a small mixing bowl, whisk well, then set aside.
- Heat 2 inches of oil in a large skillet or a deep fryer to 350°F.
- Combine the cornmeal, pepper, salt, granulated garlic and onion powder on a large plate and mix well.
- Rinse the fillets, then lightly dust them with the seasoned cornmeal.
- Dredge through the buttermilk, then lay one side in the cornmeal mixture and press lightly to make sure the cornmeal sticks. Flip and press the other side.
- Gently lay each fillet in the hot oil and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, then flip and cook for 2 to 3 minutes longer, or until the coating is crunchy and the fish is cooked thoroughly.
- Remove the fillets and drain on paper towels, then serve with the tartar sauce on the side.
- In Mississippi, it’s also traditional to serve catfish with a slice of yellow onion or a whole scallion.
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