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Catfish are a group of fish, so-named because of their whisker-like barbels.



Catfish are scaleless fin fish with flat heads and—for the most part—barbels by their mouths.[1] Their flesh is firm, white to pinkish, and generally mild, with farmed fish having the mildest flavor.[2][3][4] Several varieties of catfish are available, including the blue catfish, channel catfish, sharptooth catfish, wels catfish, pangas catfish, Mekong catfish, bullhead, basa, and swai.

Selection and storage


When purchasing fresh catfish, look for firm, springy flesh that is moist but not slimy. It should not have a "fishy" flavor.[5]

Filipino fried Catfish

Catfish is eaten in cuisines across the world. In central Europe, catfish is known for its role as an important dish in holiday feasts. It is particularly popular in the American South,[6] where it plays a historical role in black American social life.[5] Catfish's firm flesh makes it very compatible with frying, as it will hold together.[3]



If you can't get your hands on catfish, another fish with firm mild flesh can be used as a substitution. Tilapia is one good choice.[5]




  1. Davidson, Alan (2014-01-01). Jaine, Tom (ed.). The Oxford Companion to Food. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/acref/9780199677337.001.0001. ISBN 978-0-19-967733-7.
  2. America, Culinary Institute of; Ainsworth, Mark (2009-02-04). Kitchen Pro Series: Guide to Fish and Seafood Identification, Fabrication and Utilization. Cengage Learning. ISBN 978-1-4354-0036-8.
  3. a b Labensky, Sarah R.; Hause, Alan M.; Martel, Priscilla (2018-01-18). On Cooking: A Textbook of Culinary Fundamentals. Pearson. ISBN 978-0-13-444190-0.
  4. Gisslen, Wayne (2014-04-15). Professional Cooking. Wiley. ISBN 978-1-118-63672-5.
  5. a b c "Catfish: A Rich Soul Food Tradition With West African Roots". Allrecipes. Retrieved 2024-02-13.
  6. Garcia, Christina (2023-04-29). "The Rich, Complex Origins Behind Fried Catfish". The Daily Meal. Retrieved 2024-02-13.