Southern Delights: A Soulful Recipe for Fried Catfish, Hush Puppies, and Tangy Tartar Sauce

Nov 8, 2023 | Main Courses


Prep Time

Cooking Time

20 minutes
20 minutes


Growing up in the heart of the American South, I was blessed to experience a rich culinary tapestry woven with delicious flavors and memorable dishes. One such dish that holds a special place in my heart is the Fried Catfish – a soulful and comforting delight that transports me to lazy summer afternoons by the river, casting a line and waiting for the nibble that makes it all worthwhile.

Originating from the Mississippi Delta, Fried Catfish has a storied past, dating back to when African-American fishermen wielded their culinary prowess to create a dish that celebrated the bountiful harvest of the river. And today, I invite you to join me on a journey to recreate this classic Southern recipe that has stood the test of time, serving it alongside the delightfully rustic Hush Puppies and a zingy Tartar Sauce.

Fried Catfish and Hush Puppies


For the Fried Catfish:
– 4 catfish fillets, skin-on
– 1 cup cornmeal
– ½ cup all-purpose flour
– 1 teaspoon paprika
– 1 teaspoon garlic powder
– 1 teaspoon onion powder
– Salt and pepper, to taste
– Vegetable oil, for frying

For the Hush Puppies:
– 1 cup yellow cornmeal
– ½ cup all-purpose flour
– 1 tablespoon sugar
– 1 teaspoon baking powder
– ½ teaspoon salt
– ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional, for a kick)
– ½ cup buttermilk
– 1 small onion, finely chopped
– 1 jalapeno pepper, seeds removed and finely chopped
– Vegetable oil, for frying

For the Tartar Sauce:
– 1 cup mayonnaise
– 2 tablespoons pickle relish
– 1 tablespoon lemon juice
– 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley (optional)
– 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
– Salt and pepper, to taste

Tartar Sauce


1. Prep the Tartar Sauce:

– In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise, pickle relish, lemon juice, chopped fresh parsley, Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper.
– Mix well, then cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. The flavors will meld together beautifully, so prepare it ahead if possible.

2. Prepare the Catfish:

– Rinse the catfish fillets under cold water and pat them dry with paper towels.
– In a shallow dish, combine cornmeal, flour, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper. Mix well.
– Coat each catfish fillet evenly with the cornmeal mixture, pressing gently to make sure it adheres well.
– Heat vegetable oil in a large cast-iron skillet or deep-fryer to approximately 350°F (175°C).
– Gently place the coated catfish fillets into the hot oil and fry until crispy and golden brown, about 4-5 minutes per side.
– Once cooked, transfer the catfish to a wire rack or paper towels to drain excess oil.

3. Make the Hush Puppies:

– In a mixing bowl, whisk together cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cayenne pepper (if using).
– Stir in buttermilk until a thick, creamy batter forms.
– Fold in the chopped onions and jalapeno peppers, ensuring an even distribution throughout the batter.
– Heat vegetable oil to approximately 375°F (190°C) in a deep saucepan or Dutch oven.
– Using a tablespoon or small ice cream scoop, carefully drop portions of the hush puppy batter into the hot oil.
– Fry in batches until fully cooked and golden brown, turning them occasionally for even coloring. This should take around 2-3 minutes.
– Remove the hush puppies with a slotted spoon and drain any excess oil on paper towels.

4. Serve and Enjoy:

– Arrange the crispy Fried Catfish fillets on a serving platter, alongside a generous mound of Hush Puppies.
– Garnish with lemon wedges and fresh parsley, if desired.
– Serve the Tangy Tartar Sauce in a small bowl alongside the catfish and hush puppies, allowing your guests to dollop it on their plate as desired.
– Remember, Fried Catfish is best enjoyed while piping hot, with each succulent bite offering a delightful contrast to the crispy golden crust.

Fried Catfish and Hush Puppies

Tips and Variations:

– For added flavor, feel free to add a teaspoon of Cajun seasoning or Old Bay seasoning to the catfish coating or hush puppy batter.
– Experiment with different types of fish like bass or perch, as long as they have firm flesh suitable for frying.
– If you want to make this dish slightly healthier, you can oven-bake the catfish fillets instead of deep-frying them. Just place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, lightly coat with oil, and bake at 400°F (200°C) for 15-20 minutes, flipping once.
– To make the tartar sauce more spiced, try adding a pinch of cayenne pepper or a dash of hot sauce.

Enjoy this classic Southern comfort food, relishing each crispy bite of the Fried Catfish and pairing it perfectly with the warmth and charm of Hush Puppies and the zesty Tangy Tartar Sauce. Let the flavors transport you to the deep-rooted traditions and heartwarming gatherings of the American South.

Hush Puppies

Main Courses > Southern Delights: A Soulful Recipe for Fried Catfish, Hush Puppies, and Tangy Tartar Sauce

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