Cornmeal-Fried Catfish with Scallion Tartar Sauce

Southern Kitchen
Cornmeal-Fried Catfish with Scallion Tartar Sauce

About the recipe

Try to source domestic, farm-raised catfish and avoid anything imported from overseas. Mississippi has many amazing farms that produce catfish with a sweet and clean flavor, and without any of the stereotypical muddiness associated with imported catfish. Catfish fillets can range in size quite dramatically, so the fish may take up to 10 minutes to fry.

We prefer Texas Pete hot sauce and Duke’s Mayonnaise in this recipe.

Serves: 4

Hands On Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes


Scallion Tartar Sauce

3/4 cup mayonnaise

5 scallions, green and white parts only, thinly sliced

Juice of 1/2 lemon

1 tablespoon chopped capers

1 tablespoon chopped dill pickles, plus 1 tablespoon pickle juice

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Fried Catfish

Vegetable oil, for frying

2 cups buttermilk

3 tablespoons hot sauce

4 boneless catfish fillets

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups yellow cornmeal

2 tablespoons Old Bay Seasoning
Kosher salt


To make the tartar sauce: In a medium bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, scallions, lemon juice, capers, pickles and pickle juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To make the fried catfish: In a large Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pot, heat 2 inches of the oil to 350 degrees over medium-high heat. Alternatively, heat the oil to 350 degrees in a deep fryer following the manufacturer’s directions. Line a large plate or platter with paper towels.

While the oil is heating, whisk together the buttermilk and hot sauce in a large bowl. Add the catfish and let soak for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the flour, cornmeal, Old Bay and 2 tablespoons salt in a second large bowl. 

Remove the catfish from the buttermilk, drain off any excess liquid and transfer to the flour mixture. Thoroughly coat the catfish on all sides, tap off the excess flour and transfer to a second large plate.

Fry the catfish in the hot oil, 2 fillets at a time, until the fish has cooked through and the breading is crisp, 7 to 10 minutes. Transfer to the paper towel-lined plate and season with salt. Repeat with the remaining catfish. Serve hot alongside the scallion tartar sauce.