Unlike many types of meat, the internal temperature of fresh fish does not need to reach 165 degrees Fahrenheit for it to be safe to eat. However, if you cook catfish to a high temperature, you will likely dry it out. Here’s how to tell if catfish is cooked –
The safe internal temperature for cooked fish is 145 degrees Fahrenheit.
When frying fresh catfish, it will hit an internal temperature of 145 degrees very quickly unless it is frozen. If you are frying frozen catfish, it will take longer, and you will need to take care that the outside is not burnt before the inside is cooked.
Thaw your catfish for the best results ahead of time, but it is better fresh from the pond. Put frozen fish in the refrigerator the night before you want to cook it. It should be ready to go tomorrow evening.
Microwaving raw fish to thaw is not recommended if you want a quality product. Although it works, fish will dry out around the edges when microwaved, and the meat will get a rubbery consistency.
Unless you are buying catfish formulated to be microwaved, that is. Even then, take care not to cook it any longer than the directions.
How can you tell if catfish is undercooked?
The meat of fish has a layered appearance, and it will flake easily when cooked properly. If the sections are not separating easily, leave them on the fire a bit longer.
You can temp your fish to test if it is done and remove it from heat once it hits 145 degrees Fahrenheit.
On the other hand, you can use a fork and test your fish. Slide the tines of a fork into the thickest part of the fish and gently twist. If the layers of fish separate easily, your fish is cooked.
How long will it take a catfish to cook?
Not all catfish we fry are equal, so a better question is how long does it take to cook catfish nuggets, catfish filet, or whole catfish?
Catfish will cook in less than 15 minutes, whether fried or baked. However, prep time needs to be included unless you cook frozen and pre-breaded fish.
If your fish is thawed, prep time should take about as long as it takes your oil to heat up. For example, catfish nuggets and filets will cook in about three minutes. However, the whole catfish may take a few more minutes and will depend on the size of the fish.
You need to heat the oil for frying catfish to 350 to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Much hotter, and it may burn, and much lower, may result in soggy, mushy catfish.
The larger they are, the longer they will need to cook, of course, and you test them for doneness just as you would a catfish nugget or filet.
For some catfish, 15 minutes will not be enough time for it to cook through. However, if you are cooking a thick catfish fillet, the old rule of ten minutes per inch of steak or catfish filet thickness will ensure it is cooked through.
Why is my catfish mushy?
Catfish cooked at a temperature that is too low can become mushy. This is because the lower temperature will not crust the breading, but will make it soggy, instead.
Adding too many fish at a time is also a culprit for making catfish mushy because the added number will lower the temperature of the oil.
It takes high heat to brown the breading of catfish quickly. Placing any food in oil that has not come up to heat will likely fall apart, and the breading of catfish is not different.
So, before you fry, get the heat high enough that it is up to temperature before you splash your fillets.
How can I keep catfish crunchy?
Every time you drop a piece of fish in the oil, it lowers the temperature a few degrees. Once the oil temperature decreases, it can take a few minutes to get hot again.
Also, using the proper oil and preheating it before adding your fish will not cool off as quickly, and the catfish should come out golden brown and crispy.
What is the best oil to use for frying catfish?
When frying, you need an oil that has a high smoke point. Oils that meet this standard are peanut oil, avocado oil, sunflower oil, sesame oil, and canola oil.
The oil you use will impart a bit of its flavor to the catfish. So, choose cooking oil wisely if you have the opportunity to select the oil in which to fry your catfish.
Should I let the fish rest before serving?
Meat is often allowed to rest before serving and will even cook a bit more while waiting to be carved. However, fish does not require resting before serving it to your family and friends.
Even if you bake, fry, or poach your catfish, it is ready to serve straight from the skillet or oven, and no resting is required.
However, if you wish, you can cook your fish to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, tent it with foil, and let it rest for a few minutes. It will continue to cook to a temperature of 145 degrees while resting. This cooking technique will produce a piece of fish cooked to the proper temperature and not be dry and chewy.
Letting the catfish rest before serving (with some delicious sides) will work for baked catfish. However, it would be best to serve fried catfish immediately while piping hot.
Don’t keep it covered long if you cover fried fish of any kind because the moisture from tenting can make it soggy.
Can I bake catfish?
Catfish is less greasy when baked and has a different taste. It will also allow you to experiment with other flavors that you might want to add to the fish.
When cooking catfish filets, you can blacken them, coat them in herbs (like seasoned cornmeal or cajun seasoning), and even bread and bake them to a delicious crunch in the oven.
Fried catfish is excellent, but frying anything is messy, even if you use a small home air fryer. Baking your catfish will keep the calories low and allow you to try something new and delicious.
Remember to watch the temperature when baking your catfish. Unlike fried catfish, the temperature for cooking baked catfish ranges from a low of 325 degrees Fahrenheit to 450 degrees and will depend on the recipe. So, follow the recipe’s directions you choose to use. Or, you can always develop a variety of baked catfish of your own.
To be sure you do not overcook your baked catfish, take its temperature halfway through the cooking cycle. Then, once it hits 145 degrees, take it off the heat, even if the recipe says otherwise.
Can undercooked catfish make me ill?
It certainly can if it has bacteria on it that is not killed in the cooking process. Spoiled fish can contain bacteria and parasites that can make you ill. Properly cooking fish will limit the chances of getting sick from eating it.
The most common illnesses acquired from improperly cooked seafood (like salmon, pollock, perch, trout, or bronzini) and shellfish (like conch, clams, or scallops) are salmonella and vibrio vulnificus.