Market Name: Catfish
Scientific Name: Ictalurus punctatus
Common Name: Channel catfish, channel cat, farm-raised catfish
Flavor: Mild/Moderate
Texture: Firm

Farming catfish is truly a U.S. seafood industry success story. It started in Arkansas in the 1960s and expanded into an economic powerhouse as Southern soybean and rice farmers built ponds and processing facilities. Most catfish farms today are located in the Mississippi Delta, with additional production in Alabama, Arkansas and Louisiana. A typical pond is 16 acres and produces 4,000 to 7,000 pounds of catfish per acre. The channel cat is possibly the fastest-growing catfish species in the world. And it’s one of the best protein converters: 1 pound of catfish for every 2 pounds of feed (compared to 7:1 for beef and 4:1 for pork). At market size (1 to 1 1/2 pounds), catfish are harvested and then transported live in tank trucks from the farms to processing plants, where they are processed immediately. Catfish is one of the most quality-controlled products in the food industry, and its farming is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration.

Product Profile:
Because it’s a grain-fed, farmed fish, catfish has a consistently sweet, mild taste. It absorbs other flavors readily. The moist, dense meat is firm and has less flake than the typical whitefish. Fresh catfish meat is white to off-white, sometimes pinkish, with notice able translucency and iridescence. Cooked meat is opaque and white. Don’t buy it if it is reddish or slightly yellow. Also, don’t expect it to have the oceany odor of marine fish; uncooked catfish smells almost like raw chicken.

You Should Know:
Quality can fluctuate with water conditions and feed sources. Watch out for “specials” that might feature wild, river-caught catfish. And don’t mistake ocean catfish, or wolffish, for farmed channel catfish.

Cooking Tips:
With a fairly mild flavor and an unusual texture, catfish is as versatile as chicken; dress it up with a complex sauce, or dress it down for an outdoor barbeque. Sauce or season with a range of flavorings, from mild to strong; channel catfish can handle them all. For the classic catfish dish, dust fillets with corn meal and fry in vegetable oil; serve with hush puppies.

Cooking Methods: Bake,Broil,Fry,Grill,Saute'

Substitutions: Grouper, Sea bass, Rockfish

Primary Product Forms:
Fresh: Whole, H&G, Fillets (skinless/boneless), Strips, nuggets, Steaks
Frozen: Whole, H&G, Fillets (skinless/boneless), Strips, nuggets, Steaks
Value-Added: Breaded fillets, strips, nuggets Marinated or seasoned fillets, strips nuggets Prepared entrées

Global Supply: