Excerpted from Soul by Chef Todd Richards

My mother made catfish on Fridays as part of her weekly rotation of dishes. I was always amazed by the crispiness of her fish. She let it sit in cornmeal for about  5 minutes—a technique I use today.

Serves 4


2 cups (16 ounces) whole buttermilk
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon Hot Sauce (recipe follows, or use store-bought), plus more for serving
1⁄4 teaspoon granulated garlic
1⁄4 teaspoon granulated onion
4 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1⁄2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 1⁄2 pounds catfish fillets, cut into 2-inch pieces
2 cups (about 8 1⁄2 ounces) plain yellow cornmeal
1⁄4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 cups (32 ounces) vegetable oil


  1. Combine the buttermilk, Worcestershire sauce, Hot Sauce, granulated garlic, granulated onion, and 1 teaspoon each of the salt and black pepper in a large bowl or large ziplock plastic freezer bag. Add catfish pieces; cover or seal, and refrigerate for 2 to 8 hours.
  2. Whisk together the cornmeal, cayenne, remaining 3 teaspoons salt, and 1⁄2 teaspoon black pepper in a shallow dish or pie pan.
  3. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium.
  4. Remove the catfish from the buttermilk mixture, and dredge in the cornmeal. Let stand 5 minutes.
  5. Fry the catfish (large pieces first), in batches, until golden brown 5 to 7 minutes per side. Drain on a plate lined with paper towels. Serve with additional Hot Sauce (recipe below).

Note: If using boneless catfish, this dish can be served as a sandwich with lettuce and Chive Aioli  on page 357 of  “Soul: A Chef’s Culinary Evolution in 150 Recipes.” 

To drink: chardonnay, dry riesling, sauvignon blanc, sémillon, amber beers, dark beers, hard ciders, IPAs.

Serve with other fried foods, braised green, breakfast, potato, egg, or bean dishes, green or tomato salads.



2 teaspoons blended olive oil
3 red Fresno chiles, stemmed and coarsely chopped
1 jalapeño chile, stemmed and coarsely chopped
1⁄2 small yellow onion, diced
3 garlic cloves
1⁄2 cup (4 ounces) apple cider vinegar
1⁄4 cup (2 ounces) red wine vinegar
1⁄2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon kosher salt


  1. Heat the oil in a stockpot over medium. Add the chiles, onion, and garlic; cook, stirring often, until tender, 6 to 8 minutes.
  2. Add the vinegars and red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.
  3. Stir in the salt, and remove from the heat. Let stand 20 minutes.
  4. Process the chile mixture in a blender or food processor until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides. (Remove the center of the blender top to prevent the mixture from overflowing, and be wary of inhaling pepper vapors.) Makes 3⁄4 cup.

Copyright © 2018 Oxmoor House. Reprinted with permission from Time Inc. Books, a division of Meredith Corporation. New York, NY. All rights reserved.

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