Breaded Catfish Nuggets

Who knew? I LOVE catfish and I never knew it!

I have a confession to make. I’m not FROM here. I really NOT a southerner. Okay, you probably already knew that. I don’t fry things. At least I TRY not to. So when my good friend Jill passed on a whole package of catfish nuggets, I knew I had to figure out an alternative to frying. And I did! BAKED, breaded catfish nuggets!

First of all, I’m going to share with you  (because *I* didn’t know this myself) that catfish nuggets are leftover, trimmed pieces of catfish. They’re not entire fillets, thus they can’t be sold as fillets. They’re good meat, just not full fillets. I’ve been assured that they don’t involve tails, fins, gills, or whiskers! (And yes, I always find the term, “nuggets” suspect. Exactly where on a chicken DO you find nuggets? Likewise for catfish!) I also have to confess that the one and only time I ate catfish before this, I thought I could TASTE that it was a bottom-feeder. These nuggets, on the other hand, tasted GREAT!

So here’s what I did:

First, I rinsed off about 2 1/2 pounds of catfish nuggets in a strainer. Then I put them into a container that would be large enough to add an egg mixture to.

I whisked together three eggs with about 1/2 c. of yogurt. I used yogurt out of consideration for my son who tries not to eat much dairy. Yogurt affects him differently than milk, so I felt pretty safe using that as a milk substitute. Then I poured the egg-yogurt mixture over the nuggets and mixed them up thoroughly.

Next, I stirred together:

  • 4 c. breadcrumbs (I used breadcrumbs made from stale sourdough bread)
  • 2 T. minced garlic
  • 3 ounces grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1/2 t. ground pepper

I dredged each piece of egg-coated catfish in the breadcrumb mixture and put it on a cookie sheet. (“Dredged” is a cool cooking term that just means that I pushed that piece of catfish around in the breadcrumbs until it was entirely coated with them.)

I baked the breaded catfish nuggets at 350° for 35-40 minutes.

I wasn’t sure how to serve these crispy little nuggets, so I tried dipping them in cocktail sauce, tartar sauce, lemon juice, and just plain. I definitely liked them best dipped in cocktail sauce. I served these breaded catfish nuggets for dinner but I also think that if the pieces of fish are fairly small, they’d make great little appetizers.

I was amazed at how tasty these nuggets were! And to my surprise, I really LIKE catfish! Who knew?!

Catfish nuggets often go on sale, making these a nice budget-y sort of treat for the family. Next time I’m the recipient of such catfish generosity, I’m going to explore all the other possibilities for catfish.

Do YOU have any favorite catfish recipes? I’d love to hear it; do share!

Barb

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