U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish
Okay, who among us can pass up a fresh, hot plate of delicious catfish? It tastes great, it’s good for us, it’s economical and there are dozens of ways to prepare it to satisfy even the most discriminating palate. As long as it is U.S. farm-raised catfish, you know you’ve got the real deal – catfish that is produced under safe, environmentally sound conditions; catfish that is inspected and held to the highest standards; and catfish that will taste great every time.
Know your catfish.
Today there is a flood of catfish and catfish-like products that is being imported from around the world. Unfortunately, only a fraction of this fish is inspected before coming to our restaurants and grocery counters. That is alarming when you consider that imports now account for 74% of all frozen catfish fillet sales in the nation. Between 2005 and 2011 the number of pounds of catfish (and catfish-like products) imported to the U.S. increased from 30 million pounds to 204 million pounds.
To be sure the catfish you select for your family meets the highest quality standards there are two important things you should know. 1) Here in the U.S. there is a federal law that requires grocery stores to label all fish products with the “Country of Origin.” 2) There is also a law in the state of Mississippi requiring all restaurants to indicate “Country of Origin” for catfish products offered on their menus. If the product you see is not labeled so you can be sure of it’s source…you as the buyer, should beware, and buy only U.S. farm-raised catfish. Talk to the owner or manager of your favorite grocery store or restaurant and ask them to add U.S. farm-raised catfish to their inventory, if they haven’t already.
Delacata Style Catfish Fillets are the new, premium seafood offering developed by the U.S. farm-raised Catfish industry. Biologically speaking, it is Grade A catfish (Ictalurus Punctatus). So why not just call it catfish? Well, because Delacata fillets are far from a traditional catfish fillet. The mild flavor and thick, meaty flake of Delacata are similar to snapper or grouper – but the price is significantly less.
Only the most select fish are harvested for Delacata. They are then deep-skinned and hand-trimmed to ensure all fat is removed, leaving only a fantastic, and incredibly consistent, prime cut of fish, perfect for grilling, sautéing or broiling.
Support U.S. catfish producers.
As the volume of imported catfish fillet products has increased dramatically, the volume of catfish produced in the U.S. has decreased, including catfish produced in Mississippi.
This is partially due to the substantial increases in the cost of catfish feed components such as corn and soybean meal. Feed prices at the end of 2011 were at over $421 per ton, up from under $250 a ton in 2006. Rising gas prices have also taken their toll on the industry. With commodity prices for corn and soybeans high, many catfish farmers have chosen to grow seed grain as opposed to feeding it. The number of U.S. acres in catfish production decreased by 10% in 2011. Mississippi, Alabama and Arkansas, the top three catfish producing states saw a decrease of 8,500 acres last year.
So how can we help our Mississippi growers and keep great tasting, high quality catfish on our family tables? We can help to increase demand by insisting on only U.S. farm-raised catfish.
According to Roger Barlow, President of the Catfish Institute and Vice President of Catfish Farmers of America, “The greatest assets of the U.S. catfish industry are loyal consumers. When catfish lovers refuse to accept anything less than a U.S. farm-raised product, it helps to support the industry and sends a clear message to restaurants and retailers that savvy consumers prefer only the best.”
Catfish Dishes Your Family will Love
Add catfish to your family dinner menu with one of these great recipes courtesy of the U.S. Catfish Institute. For more great recipes check out www.uscatfish.com.
6 dressed whole U.S. farm-raised catfish or catfish fillets
2 cups dry bread crumbs
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon basil
2 teaspoons salt and pepper to taste
3/4 cup margarine or cooking oil lemon wedges
1. Combine bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, parsley, paprika, oregano, basil, salt, and pepper.
2. Dip catfish in melted margarine or oil and roll in crumb mixture.
3. Arrange fish in a well-greased baking dish 14x9x2 inches.
4. Bake in a 375o oven for 25 minutes or until fish flakes easily. Cooking time will be less if using fillets.
5. Garnish with lemon wedges. Makes 6 servings.
Grilled Catfish With Citrus Marinade
4 U.S. farm-raised catfish fillets or farm-raised Delacata fillets
1/4 cup orange juice
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1. Rinse fillets, pat dry, and place in shallow glass dish.
2. Combine remaining ingredients and pour over fillets.
3. Chill for 1 to 3 hours.
4. Preheat grill.
5. Grill fillets over high heat, rounded side down, for 3 to 4 minutes.
6. Turn fillets and grill for 3 to 4 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork.
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 6 to 8 minutes
Makes 4 servings