Hot Catfish with Dill Pickle Ranch

by Min Merrell

Hot Catfish with Dill Pickle Ranch 

Heading south on the historic Mississippi Blues Trail to the Southern Foodways Alliance meeting in Jackson this summer, we drove right through the heart of the Mississippi Delta catfish industry. Apparently, we’ve been taking our U.S. farm-raised catfish for granted. Katy Simmons Prosser of Simmons Farm Raised Catfish in Yazoo City, says the industry has shrunk dramatically in the last decade. A drive through the Delta is bittersweet to her because so many ponds have been dried up and converted to other crops. Her father started Simmons Catfish back in the 1970s and remains an industry leader, but many have been forced out due to increased feed and production costs, while cheap imported species like basa and swai from countries like China and Vietnam flood the market.

Real American catfish must be labeled as so, is raised under strict guidelines, and is still a bargain at less than $8.00 per pound. Here’s yet another reminder to consumers to read labels carefully and buy local. Look for the new Delacata style catfish fillets, a prime cut with a thick meaty flake similar to grouper, that takes well to the grill, the sauté pan or the deep fryer.

We’ve been playing around with Hot Catfish with Dill Pickle Ranch, loosely inspired by Nashville Hot Chicken. It makes a terrific spicy appetizer accompanied by icy cold beer.













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