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If you are not an adventurous eater, you probably want to have an idea of what you are about to eat before putting it in your mouth. And that applies to the mystery seafood — Catfish.
Rapidly gaining popularity as one of the most exquisite seafoods worldwide, people love this mystery-shrouded seafood. Eat it fried, grilled on a barbecue, or served as a cold appetizer; this Southern dish deserves a place on your seafood platter.
But the question here is – What does catfish taste like?
If you are one among the few who do not know what catfish actually taste like, then it is time to find out. But before we get into it, let’s talk about what a catfish is!
What is a catfish?
Catfish is a marine or freshwater fish with a slimy, non-scaly appearance. The fish get their name due to the feelers or whiskers around the mouth.
Cats use their whiskers to navigate the environment, while a catfish uses them to sense food. However, the cat and catfish aren't related anyway (give your cat some catfish filets, and see how unrelated they are).
The whiskers on the catfish's mouth are usually arranged in rows around the mouth, snout, and chin. However, not all the species have distinctive barbels (whiskers).
The class of catfish has almost 2900 different species of catfish that are found both in marine waters and freshwater. Among these species, some are as small as a few centimeters, while others can be up to 15 feet long.
The smaller species are usually kept as aquarium fish. Rest, the long and heavy fish go inside the human stomach.
These fish are bottom feeders and usually active at night. It means that these fish get their food mainly from the bottom of the water body they live in, and they get their food at night.
What does catfish taste like?
Truth be told, it isn’t easy to accurately describe a flavor because each person’s taste is different. But far as my experience goes with eating catfish, here’s my take on what it tastes like.
Catfish has white flesh that tastes mild and somewhat sweet. You can experience dense meat with a juicy, moist texture. The farmed catfish generally has a sweet, mild flavor, with not-so-fishy flavor. On the other hand, wild catfish have a somewhat muddy taste. Some species of catfish have more oily flesh than others, and their oils make them tastier after cooking.
The fish cooks well at 145 degrees Fahrenheit, and the type of meat doesn't let it get overcooked quickly.
There's a difference in the flavor profile of the wild catfish and farmed catfish. The farmed catfish generally has a sweet, not-so-fishy, mild flavor. The reason behind their flavor is their diet that includes vegetarian feed like soy, corn, or wheat.
On the other hand, the wild catfish have a somewhat muddy taste. The reason behind the muddy taste of wild catfish is their poor eyesight in their low-lit habitat (their bottom-dwelling nature can obstruct the amount of light they get).
For this reason, most of the wild catfish will have funny objects coming out of their stomachs (some of them literally feed on sea debris, hence the muddy taste).
Where do catfish come from?
Catfish are found in both shallow and deep coastal waters. However, they only thrive in temperate regions, so you cannot see them in places like Antarctica, which have freezing temperatures.
Other than Antarctica, all the oceans have some varieties of catfish. However, North American waters inhabit half of the world's species of Catfish.
Fresh, fast-running water bodies also inhabit some of the catfish species. Also, they are commercially farmed to provide the much-demanded fresh-water catfish.
Still, the most convenient for you is the nearby grocery store that offers many catfish varieties.
Catfish nutritional profile
Catfish have a unique nutritional profile—a hundred-gram serving of catfish supplies 105 calories. Moreover, you can get 18.5 grams of lean protein by having a single serving. It means that you can get almost 30-35% of your daily protein requirement by having this delicious fish.
The protein content makes you feel full, so anyone looking for healthy food options must include catfish in their diet.
Still, if you have the question, is catfish good for you? Here are some more nutritional facts about it.
Catfish is loaded with Omega-3 fatty acid
Seafood, in general, contains omega 3 fatty acids. Catfish, too, has omega-3 fatty acids. This type of polyunsaturated fats are good for heart health and helps in controlling blood pressure.
Moreover, these long-chain fatty acids have roles to play in optimal visual function and neural health. These fatty acids are naturally present in the cell membranes of the brain cells so a healthy intake will optimize the overall brain function.
Additionally, these PUFAs also have an impact on the gut microbiome. They tend to improve gut health.
Vitamin B12 requirements met in a single serving
A hundred-gram catfish is a serving that supplies 121% of the daily vitamin B-12 requirement of your body. Vitamin B-12 impacts brain health, red blood cell production, and nerve tissue health.
Other than these general functions, studies found that oral administration of vitamin B-12 works to treat anemia.
Furthermore, the deficiency of vitamin B-12 can cause cognitive impairment that causes loss of memory or confusion. Studies suggest that vitamin B-12 supplementation is effective against cognitive impairment.
One way to include vitamin B-12 in your diet is by eating catfish.
Ways to cook catfish
Catfish is a versatile white fish that blends with many flavors. That's why you can find the fish both in restaurants and as a quick-dinner fix at your home.
Unlike other fish, there's no going wrong with cooking catfish since it doesn't get overcooked easily. So, even if you are an inexperienced sea-food cook, don't worry about perfectly handling catfish.
To begin with, here are some quick catfish recipe recaps that you can master within no time:
This Southern-fried catfish recipe is the quickest and one of the most popular methods to prepare catfish. You only need to take some fresh or frozen catfish fillets (thaw frozen fillets in the fridge overnight).
After washing and pat-drying the fillets, make a mixture of coarse cornmeal and a store-bought seasoning of your choice.
Now, dip each fillet in milk, and roll it in the cornmeal. Deep fry the fillets using a mixture of hot oil and butter.
You can pair these fish fillets with hush puppies, steamed vegetables like cauliflower and a dip of your choice to make your family drool.
Suppose you are looking for a fish recipe that suits most diets (paleo, low-fat, gluten-free). This one's it. The ingredients are super simple, with only a cajun seasoning that you can ace from your spice rack and butter that gives the blackening effect to your catfish fillets.
Make a Cajun spice mix by combining paprika, cayenne pepper powder, garlic powder, dried thyme, oregano, onion powder, and salt. You can adjust all the spices according to your taste buds.
Rub the seasoning on the whitefish and then fry it on high heat in a cast-iron skillet.
You can serve the delicious blackened fish with a simple green salad and boiled rice.
Grilled even before you realize it, this lemon-pepper catfish is a class apart. To get moving, soak two cedar wood planks in water to go inside the grill.
After soaking them, dry them and pre-heat them on the grill for ten minutes.
Make a rub with mayo, garlic, cracked black pepper, lemon juice, lemon zest, and some herbs of your choice.
Apply the rub to catfish fillets, brush with some oil, and put the fillets directly on the wood.
You will love the result of the aromatic and delicious lemon-pepper catfish. You can add parmesan to the fish fillet for an extra kick before starting the grilling process.
Fun catfish facts
Here are some little-known facts about this mystery seafood:
- Catfish barbels work as their tongues; they taste their food with hair-like appendages.
- Catfish are afraid of shadows. If you create a shadow over a catfish aquarium, they will hide and starve themselves to death.
- Catfish have venomous fins that can cause a nasty sting
- August is the month of catfish, and the 25th of June is catfish day.
Catfish are a diversified fish group with varying species that inhabit fresh and seawater alike.
But does catfish taste good? Yes, absolutely. The taste of catfish can be sweet, mild, and clean if you have freshwater catfish. It can vary to a muddy flavor for some seawater species.
Whatever variety you use, make sure to pick up an excellent recipe to fully utilize the white fish flavor you only get from catfish.