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Nashville-Style Hot Catfish

Photo: Jennifer Davick; Styling: Allison R. Banks
Chill time 24 hrs
Other time 45 mins
Yield Makes 6 to 8 servings


  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 (5-oz.) bottle habanero hot sauce
  • 3 pounds small catfish fillets
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • Vegetable oil

How to Make It

  1. Whisk together buttermilk and hot sauce in a large bowl. Add catfish. Cover and chill 24 hours.

  2. Combine flour and next 3 ingredients. Remove catfish from buttermilk mixture, discarding mixture. Dredge catfish in flour mixture, shaking off excess.

  3. Pour oil to depth of 1 1/2 inches into a large, deep skillet; heat to 325°. Fry catfish, in batches, 4 to 5 minutes on each side or until golden brown and fish flakes with a fork. Drain on a wire rack over paper towels. Sprinkle with salt to taste. Serve with additional hot sauce, if desired.

  4. Note: We tested with Tabasco Habanero Sauce.

  5. Try This Twist!

  6. Nashville-Style Hot Chicken: Substitute 3 lb. chicken drumsticks for catfish. Proceed with recipe as directed through Step Preheat oven to 350°. Pour oil to depth of 1 inch into a large, deep skillet; heat to 325°. Fry drumsticks, in batches, 6 to 8 minutes or until lightly browned, turning occasionally. Transfer to a wire rack in a jelly-roll pan. Bake 15 minutes or until done. Hands-on Time: 40 min.; Total Time: 55 min., plus 24 hr. for chilling.