Are you thinking about making homemade catfish? If so, it’s probably a good idea to know whether catfish are typically served with or without the skin. In most other types of meat, the skin is thought to be healthy and full of nutrients. While this may be similar for catfish skin, it is not the best fish skin to regularly consume and it is not always the most healthy.
Can you eat catfish skin? Yes, you can eat catfish skin, but that doesn’t mean you should want to. Catfish skin tastes similar to dirt, with a rubbery texture.
Read on to learn more about catfish skin and why it is not the best skin to consume, proper catfish skin preparation, benefits to eating catfish skin, best types of catfish to eat, types of catfish to avoid eating, and the best ways to prepare catfish. Also, learn about catfish fishing and purchasing techniques, as well as other animal skins you should and should not eat!
About Catfish Skin
Catfish have tough, leathery skin that is difficult to eat if left on the meat. Catfish do not have scales, so their skin is rather soft and slippery. Many people do not enjoy eating catfish skin due to the muddy flavor from them living most of their lives in the mud.
Also, catfish skin is known to be compared to the same of sharks, dolphins, and octopi. If you’ve ever had calamari, you’d know it is quite chewy and gamey. This is the same texture for catfish skin, and it isn’t the most popular at least in the United States.
Why You Should Remove Catfish Skin Before Eating
Catfish skin is typically not enjoyed because it turns into a hard rubbery mess after being cooked.
Also, it generally does not add to the flavor of the fish and has no flavor itself, so it’s useless there. As well, when cooking you cannot get a complete sear on your fish filet if the skin is left on.
The EPA recommends skinning your catfish before consumption, due to the toxins catfish absorb through their skin during their lives.
Proper Preparation for Eating Catfish Skin
When eating catfish skin, it is imperative the fish is prepared to the same standards of seafood cooking. You also want to make sure to score your catfish skin with a knife, so that it doesn’t curl up and fall off of your meat during the cooking process. The best way to cook catfish with skin is deep-fried or pan-fried.
Benefits to Eating Catfish Skin
Catfish skin is full of important vitamins and nutrients required for basic survival. Vitamins in catfish skin include; protein, omega-3 fatty acids, B12, and obviously fish oil which contains iron, magnesium, and calcium.
It is also beneficial to cook the catfish in its skin because it helps to retain moisture in the meat and keep the meat from falling apart. Overall leading to a more solid piece of fish. If you prefer your fish flaky and falling apart, cook your catfish without its skin.
Best Types of Catfish to Eat
The best type of catfish to eat is flathead catfish. Flathead catfish are one of the three most abundant freshwater catfish breeds. The other two are blue catfish and channel catfish. The most popular freshwater catfish typically sold in grocery stores is channel catfish.
Popular saltwater catfish to eat include the gafftopsail and hardhead catfish. Both of these catfish are venomous to the touch of their spines but completely safe to eat. Saltwater fish are known for being more gamey and salty than freshwater catfish.
Types of Catfish to Avoid Eating
Overall, older and bigger catfish do not taste as fresh and flavorful and younger catfish. As time goes on, catfish age, and their meat becomes even more muddy and mushy than before. Catfish that typically feed off of dead animals and plants are probably not going to taste as good as a catfish that only ate live prey.
Old and big catfish are targeted by fishermen and regulators, for this reason, to get them off the streets essentially. Catfish populations are often overpopulated and in need of control.
Best Ways to Prepare Catfish
The best ways to cook catfish are pan-fried, deep-fried, baked, grilled, or air-fried. With so many ways to try catfish, the recipes are endless. Most people typically prefer catfish deep-fried, with coleslaw, french fries, and hushpuppies.
Catfish fishing is very popular and often pursued in professional fishing. Catfish are often found in the bottoms of lakes, rivers, ponds, and oceans. The best bait to use for fishing catfish are shrimp, worms, minnows, stink bait, shad, other caught fish, anything bloody or oily. Catfish are typically caught rather close to shores at around six to eight feet of depth.
Catfish for cooking can be purchased at any local grocery store or fish market near you. Catfish will taste the best the fresher it is, so if you live near a body of water you have an advantage. If not, your best bet may be finding frozen catfish to cook after dethawing.
Some people buy catfish directly off of fishermen if you know a good hookup. Never buy catfish from untrusted sources, in order to steer clear from diseases and bad fish.
Other Animal Skins to Avoid Eating
Obviously, we avoid animal skins that we typically don’t eat the animals of. So we wouldn’t eat dog or cat skin. Cow skin is an animal that humans typically don’t eat the skin of because they are tough and hard to digest. Although, some people make soup with cow skin. Most reptiles do not get their skin eaten, as well as birds and rodents.
Humans tend to avoid animal skin because certain skin cancers and diseases can be passed onto us through consumption. All meat by-products made in the United States are cleaned and tested for cancerous cells before manufacturing.
Animal Skins Okay to Eat
Pigskin is actually mass-produced and sold to pork rind companies to create a crispy snack. Chicken and turkey skin are known for being packed with vitamins such as iron, magnesium, protein, and other needed vitamins. In some countries, goat skins are considered a delicacy. This does not mean that eating goat skins is safe, though.
Conclusion: Can you Eat Catfish Skin, or Will it Make You Sick?
So yes, technically catfish skin is edible. With that being said, that doesn’t mean you will want to eat the skin. Catfish skin is known for being too hard and chewy, having no flavor, and being difficult to eat. Catfish skin is recommended to be removed before cooking and consumption because catfish absorb toxins through their skin throughout their lives. These toxins can possibly be transferred to humans if the fish is not properly cleaned and prepared. Catfish skin has important vitamins such as protein, iron, magnesium, and omega-3 fatty acids. Catfish are best prepared deep or pan-fried.
Catfish fishing is a very popular sport, and they enjoy shrimp, worms, minnows, stinkbait, and anything that is bloody or smells badly as bait. Catfish typically can be caught between depths of six to eight feet. You can purchase a catfish for cooking at any local grocery store or fish market. Humans also typically consume pigskin, chicken skin, and turkey skin.