Hot off the tipster button, we just found out that today, June 25th, is National Catfish Day. The great communicator, Ronald Reagan, established this holiday all the way back in 1987. We have a long and storied history with this fish.
An intriguing part of the coal industry in eastern Kentucky is that multiple ponds have to be built near the mines themselves. These ponds are dug out to accommodate the silt that runs off the sides of the mountains during rain fall. A traditional part of the building of the ponds is the stocking of said ponds with Bluegill and Catfish, two very good eating fish.
Once a year the coal operator will throw a party, toss a few blasting caps in the ponds and retrieve the fish for a fry-out on the banks of the silt ponds. Fires are built, big lard cans are heated up, and the fish are gutted, battered and fried right there on the side of the mountain. Sitting on a mountain top at dusk with a plate of fresh fried catfish and somebody’s car stereo blasting out some Ralph Stanley is a great way to usher in an evening in Eastern Kentucky.
Then there was the time Captain Catfish, a man in a giant catfish costume was assaulted by a band of rowdy youth in a strip mall in northern Alabama. “Get him….Get him” their shrill cries still haunt me as the poor man clumsily tried to outrun the band of malcontents.
He never stood a chance.
Here in Austin there’s really not a catfish culture to speak of so I cook it at the house when I get a craving. Here are 2 of my favorite catfish recipes:
Fried Catfish Po boy http://www.scrumptiouschef.com/food/2011/3/5/The-Art-and-Science-of-Soul-Food-Part-5-How-to-Make-a-Fried-Catfish-Po-Boy
Blackened Catfish with Creamy Grits http://www.scrumptiouschef.com/food/2012/6/16/Austin-Daily-Photo-Blackened-Catfish-With-Creamy-Grits