Catfish is a southern classic, often served blackened or Cajun-style.
This fish is quite dense and reasonably mild, qualities that respond well to charcoal grilling.
The natural sweetness of catfish means you can get away with simple seasoning. Some cracked black pepper and Worcestershire sauce is all you need for perfectly grilled catfish as a change from steak or burgers on the barbie.
Catfish is also easy to serve. Stir-fry some spinach, cream some corn, and grill some peppers for a wonderfully sweet accompaniment to your catfish.
Today, we’ll walk you through the following two approaches:
- Grilling catfish fillets
- Grilling whole catfish
Before we show you how to confidently grill catfish using either fillets or the whole fish, some basics to get your started.
Grilled Catfish Tips
For many beginners to grilling, the fear of fish falling apart and tumbling between the grill grates is enough to put them off.
Others dislike the idea of fish sticking to the grill grates, but there’s no reason for either of these concerns to stop you from enjoying freshly grilled catfish.
Unlike some softer fish, catfish is firm enough to stay intact when you’re grilling it. If you prefer the added security, use a grilling basket or some aluminum foil. If you do this, you’ll be steaming the fish, and you won’t get the same texture generated by grilling on the grates.
As long as your clean is clean and you coat the grill grates with a thin layer of oil, and as long as it’s scorching hot, you shouldn’t find catfish sticks on.
How to Grill Catfish Fillets
Fresh catfish fillets are pretty easy to source. Look for fillets weighing from 4oz to 6oz. Ensure the fillets are firm to the touch and pale in color. Steer clear of catfish fillets with discolorations or dark spots. Also, avoid any fish fillets that smell overly fishy.
Here’s how to grill your fillets the easy way.
- Melt a tablespoon of butter and brush this over the catfish fillets with a pastry brush. Ensure the fillets are coated on all sides. If you dislike the heaviness of butter, use olive instead. The coating will help prevent the fish sticking to the grates
- Sprinkle some salt and pepper on all sides of the fillets. If you want an extra kick, consider adding paprika or cayenne powder. Garlic also works well with catfish, and so does liquid smoke
- Heat your outdoor grill or your grill pan to medium high (375F to 425F)
- Coat the grill rack with oil
- Once the grill is scorching hot, arrange your fillets in an even layer with no overlapping
- Cook the catfish for 3 to 4 minutes. When the flesh is no longer translucent, the fillets are ready to flip over
- Cook the fillets for 3 to 4 minutes on the other serve. When the flesh is whit and flaky, your catfish is ready to serve
- Transfer to a plate with a wide spatula
How to Grill Whole Catfish
Finding a fresh, whole catfish might be more challenging than locating some fillets.
If you head to a fish market, look for catfish with undamaged skin and clear eyes if you’re planning to grill them whole.
When grilling whole catfish, you won’t get the same results if you use frozen fish.
Here’s how to grill the whole fish for lip-smacking results:
First, make some seasoning. Not only will this help impart some extra valuable flavor, but it will also ensure the meat stays moist while you’re grilling it. To do this, mix up the following ingredients:
- Melted butter (1 tablespoon)
- Lemon juice (tablespoon)
- Sea salt
- Black pepper
Season both the inside and the outside of the fish. Make sure all parts of the fish are coated, so you won’t find it drying out when you grill it.
Now for the easy part!
- Heat your grill or your grill pan to medium high (375F to 425F). Using a paper towel dripping with cooking oil, coat the grill grates to minimize sticking. It’s vital to allow the grill to heat up properly before you start grilling your catfish
- When cooking a whole catfish, you need to cook it slow and low. If you don’t do this, you’ll scorch the outside of the fish while failing to cook it thoroughly on the inside. Never allow the grill to get too hot or you’ll burn your catfish
- Rather than placing your fish over the hottest part of the goals, instead use an area of the grill with indirect heat
- Cook the fish for 7 to 10 minutes. The bigger the catfish, the longer it will take to cook. When the flesh underneath is firm and marked from the grill, you can flip it over
- Cook the second side of the catfish for another 7 to 10 minutes, depending on the size and thickness of the fish. When the flesh look opaque and falls apart easily, it’s time to serve yout catfish
If you’re tired of grilling the same old tried-and-true classics, we hope today’s guide to grilling catfish has inspired you to try something different.
As long as you start with clean grill grates, and as long as you make sure you coat the grates with oil, you should have no issues with catfish sticking on, and you’ll end up with a delicious addition to your next grill out.
Before you head off today, take a moment to bookmark our blog. Here at Hempen Hill BBQ, we cater for all experience levels, and we’re here to help you every step of the way on your grilling journey. We update our content daily, so be sure to pop back soon and don’t miss out!