The best way to store fish is over ice. Remove the fish from its original packaging, rinse under cold water, and dry with paper towels. Set fish on a cooling rack and place inside a container filled with crushed ice. The ice should reach just beneath the fish, but shouldn’t touch it. Cover the container, rack, and fish with plastic wrap or aluminum foil and place in the fridge. If the fish is stored longer than 24 hours, be sure to swap out the melted ice with a new batch. Ideally, any fresh fish should not be stored for more than two days.
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Some fish can be frozen for up to year (with three months as the standard), but its freshness depends entirely on its exposure to air. To limit this from taking place, you should first clean the fish, wrap it in aluminum foil or freezer paper, and place it in a freezer bag. Press down on the bag before closing to eliminate any excess air.
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Thawing frozen fish is quite an easy process. Simply leave it in the refrigerator overnight or place the wrapped fish in a bowl of cold water. Don’t microwave the fish, as some sections will cook while others are continuing to thaw.
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Catfish can sometimes have an unappealing “muddy” flavor, so to mellow it out, we use a coating of cornmeal and flour spiced up with cayenne pepper and paprika—it gives the fish crunch as well as extra seasoning. Shallow-fry the catfish for a few minutes per side in a cast-iron pan, hit it with a little salt, and serve it with lemon and a rémoulade for dipping.
What to buy: Try to buy farmed catfish, as it gets a “Best Choice” rating from the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch list.
If you don’t have cake flour on hand, all-purpose can be used, though the results won’t be quite as crispy.
Special equipment: You’ll need a candy/fat thermometer for this recipe.