Catfish

Species Information

Catfish is the name given to fish from both freshwater and saltwater that have cat whisker-like barbells, no scales and a somewhat flattened head.

Farm-raised catfish has been a highly successful industry since it began in Arkansas in the 1960s. Channel catfish are one of the fastest growing catfish in the world and unlike many other fish, farmed catfish are preferred to wild, which may have a muddy flavor. The quality of catfish can fluctuate with water conditions and feed.

Catfish are one of the most quality-controlled products in the food industry, and its farming is regulated by the Food & Drug Administration.

Cooking & Handling

Store seasoned catfish up to 2 days refrigerated. Store boneless, skinless fillets up to 1 day refrigerated.

Catfish is a good, low-fat source of B vitamins and an excellent source of niacin, selenium and potassium.

With mild flavor and usual texture, catfish is as versatile as chicken. In the American South, catfish are commonly dusted with cornmeal, fried and served with hush puppies and cole slaw.

Flavors that work well with catfish are Cajun seasoning, celery, cornmeal, garlic, green chiles, lemon, olive oil, onion, paprika, pecan, red pepper, scallion, sesame, soy sauce, thyme, tomato and vinegar.

Cooking Methods

Bake, Broil, Fry, Grill, Sauté

Global Supply

United States

Seasonal Availability

Fresh and frozen are available year-round. Harvests are heaviest from late summer to early autumn.

Scientific Name

Ictalurus punctatus

Market Name

Catfish

Common Names

Channel catfish, channel cat, farm-raised catfish

Substitutions

Grouper, sea bass, rockfish

Raw Characteristics

  • smells almost like raw chicken
  • white to off-white meat
  • noticeable translucence, iridescence
  • market wt 1–1.5 lbs

Cooked Characteristics

  • mild, sweet tasting
  • opaque, white meat
  • firm texture
  • less flake
  • tough skin, which is not eaten

Pronunciations

French: poisson chat
German: wels, katfisch
Italian: pesce gatto
Japanese: namazu
Spanish: lobo