Monday, April 28, 2014

How to Kill a Catfish

Those of you who have been reading my blog up to this point may be tempted to believe that homesteading is nothing more than eating homemade food, doing cute crafts, and keeping house.  Those things are important, but it's time that I expose a not so pretty fact of life(on the farm): we omnivores eat living creatures.

While many urban and suburban never have the opportunity to raise and butcher their own meat, most people have been fishing,even if just to cast a line and relax by the water. Cleaning fish is a good introduction to processing your own meat. So If you are not squeamish keep reading and I will show you how to clean a catfish.
I'll start with a recipe for fried catfish just in case you opt for store bought fish filets.
Cornmeal  Fried Catfish
2 filets per adult
1 per child
enough buttermilk to soak fish
enough cornmeal to coat fish
about a teaspoon cayenne pepper per 2 cups
about a teaspoon of salt per cup cornmeal
enough peanut oil to fry fish
Soak fish at least an hour up to overnight.
Dredge fish in cornmeal mixture.
Meanwhile, heat peanut oil in a deep skillet or
deep fryer. Cook fish for about 5 minutes per
side.Allow to drain on brown paper.
Eat hot with biscuits or hushpuppies.

Springtime is a wonderful time of year to fish. Our pond is teaming with catfish, bluegill and ,I suspect, bass. My children caught 27 fish last week. I let them keep about 10 which we fried up on Friday.

If you have a teenage boy(or girl) you can put him in charge of the whole process, he'll probably beg for the opportunity.

First, get a large cutting board and a sharp fillet knife.

If your fish is alive when you're ready to clean him you'll need to stun him so he won't squirm during the process.
To do this,hold him by the tail and whack him against the cutting board a few times.

The next step is my least favorite, cutting off the head. Hold the fish firmly by its middle and just above the fin saw a few times to get through the bones, the head will come off easily after the bones are broken.

After the head is off the guts need to be removed. To do this, flip the fish over and with the tip if your knife or a pair of kitchen shears slice or cut down to the anus(a small hole near the tail of your fish)being careful not to pierce any of the organs.

Use your hands and pull out all of the guts. You can bury or compost these, we fed them to our pigs.

Cat fish have no scales,however most other fish do. There are de scalers that you can buy at sporting goods shops or with a sharp knife, scrape your fish against the scales until they are all removed.
Other than cat fish I usually leave the head on.

When your fish is gutted, beheaded,and descaled, rinse it well in cool water.
Place it on ice until you are ready to cook it.
The flavor of catfish improves if you soak in buttermilk for a few hours.