I don’t know about you, but trying new foods is the absolute reason for my existence. It doesn’t matter if I love it or hate it, the ability to say I’ve tried it feels like power to me. If you’re anything like me, then I have something new for you! A lot of people tend to tread lightly with seafood, but catfish is one thing you just have to try!
Are blue catfish good to eat? The short answer, yes! The long, they are amazing to eat! Compared to lean channel catfish, they are quite a bit fattier and less muddy. This makes them full of flavor: like the ribeye of the sea.
Read on to learn more about blue catfish, as well as other catfish that taste great! As well, I let you in on which breeds of catfish to avoid consuming. I take you through the whole process; where to buy the catfish, how to prepare, and even what to pair your catfish with. I address the rumor of catfish always being better in the south! Lastly, be informed on the ongoing overpopulation issue of blue catfish in the Chesapeake Bay. So grab your catfish reel and help out!
What Are Blue Catfish?
Blue Catfish are primarily large river fish, having no scales and blue bodies.
They are the largest species of North American catfish and can live up to twenty years. Like all catfish, blues have whisker-like barbels around their mouth for taste and smell.
These fish are located all over the continental United States in rivers, lakes, and even larger ponds.
Blue catfish are known to have a mild flavor, flaky texture, and can sometimes be gamey if you have a larger fish. Because these fish still mainly eat off the water floor, they can have a slight muddy flavor to them.
If the blue catfish has had access to an adequate supply of smaller fish, it won’t have that muddy flavor.
Other Types of Edible Catfish
Other types of edible catfish are:
- Flathead catfish
- Channel catfish
- White catfish
- Yellow bullheads
- Brown bullheads
- Black bullhead
- Hardhead catfish
Some of these are better than others, depending on their water and food quality.
Freshwater Vs. Saltwater
There are many different opinions on whether freshwater or saltwater catfish tastes better. The two usually look identical when put next to each other if just examining the meat, but the flavors do differ.
Most people prefer freshwater catfish over saltwater because they don’t have the salty flavor. With that being said, saltwater catfish can have a much fuller flavor if you can handle the briny effect.
Best Catfish to Eat
After reading review after review, the general consensus seems to be that flathead catfish are the best to eat out of all breeds.
The overall reasoning for this was that this breed mainly eats smaller live fish. Although, most catfish sold in the U.S today is farm-raised channel catfish.
Blue catfish are most popular in the east, where cities are struggling to keep their populations under control.
Types of Catfish to Avoid Eating
All species of catfish are technically edible, but not all taste good. Most reviews stated that catfish from Asia was never good. It was unclear if this was because of the species of catfish they sent, or because of the travel time causing the fish to go bad. It is also always a good rule of thumb to avoid eating huge old catfish because their meat will be mushy and not as flavorful.
Where to Buy Catfish
Many restaurants sell catfish as an entree or side dish, ranging from formal dining to fast food. If you’re looking to cook it at home though, any nearby grocery store or fish/meat market should have at least a small selection. This all depends on where you live, if you live near a body of water or ocean you’re more likely to have direct access to prepackaged catfish.
Best Ways to Cook Catfish
The most popular ways to cook catfish are baked, pan-fried, deep-fried, or grilled. Many usually prefer pan-fried or deep-fried to give the fish a nice crunchy crust. Any way you decide, make sure to cook the catfish until it reaches an internal temperature of at least 145 degrees Fahrenheit.
Best Side Pairings
Catfish is a diverse entree that goes well with really any pairing. Some of the most popular side pairings with catfish include;
- Any flavored rice (Chicken, lime, garlic, etc.).
- French fries
- Mac and Cheese
- Cucumber salad
- Peach cobbler
- Any green vegetable
Best Wine Pairings
Every meal has to have a pairing wine! Some of the best wine pairings with catfish include;
- Dry Rose
- Sauvignon Blanc
- Pinot Grigio
- American Riesling
- Pinot Gris
Does Catfish Taste Better in The South?
This could be true or could not be. It’s a known fact that fish, in general, taste best from local waters. The faster the fish gets to your plate from the body of water is the better.
So if your fish are coming from Florida, and you live in Kansas, no your fish probably won’t taste as good. If you’re in Florida and the fish is caught there and you eat it that day, yes it’ll taste amazing. You can also possibly get an even better fish though, in Michigan or Ohio on one of the Great Lakes same day. It’s all about location and freshness with this type of meat.
Blue Catfish: An Invasive Species
Blue catfish are considered an invasive species in certain parts of the world. Specifically in Virginia, blue catfish are wreaking havoc on the natural marine life who normally inhabit the Chesapeake Bay.
Tons of blue catfish were introduced to Virginia rivers decades ago and unfortunately did not stay in those rivers. They spread like wildfire and are now all over the bays river systems, on Virginia and Maryland’s western and eastern shores.
Now, the Chesapeake Bay pimps out blue catfish on every tourist website they can. Because of their overpopulation, they have an abundance of these fish at local restaurants and fish markets.
As catfish age, their quality deteriorates and they can no longer be eaten. Local fish regulators help to remove these older fish from the population.
Conclusion – Are Blue Catfish Good to Eat?
Blue catfish are good to eat, but many people prefer other breeds over this one such as flatheads. With that being said, blue catfish are always in the top three best catfish to eat. Blue catfish are known to have a mild flavor, flaky texture, and can sometimes be gamey if you have a bigger fish. You should typically avoid these bigger catfish because usually, they are older and not as good of quality.
You can check out your local fish market or grocery store to find catfish today! The two most popular ways to prepare catfish is deep-fried and pan-fried. There are many different side and wine pairings for catfish, its a diverse entrée.
Catfish and all other fish will always taste the best freshly caught. It is always best to purchase fish caught within a day or two and or frozen. Blue catfish are an invasive species for the Chesapeake bay, and it is one of the best places to find fresh blue catfish.