Friday, May 1, 2015


Below are tidbits and recipes about the Catfish. It was a staple for many people and still is in some parts today.

A Report from the Fishing and Game Commissioners mentioned:
A number of men engaged in cleaning out the Morris Canal impounded several thousand catfish, and these were secured by one of the wardens and placed in different waters in Sussex county.
In the Western States the channel catfish is much sought after, both for sport and the food it affords, its flesh being white, firm and sweet. The addition of this fish to the food-fish of the Delaware and other large bodies of water in this State would be very desirable, and consequently the Commission has made arrangements for securing a supply in the near future. A number of channel catfish have already been brought to the State, and have been placed in one of the reservoirs of the Passaic Water Company, in Paterson, where they are amply protected, and from whence it is hoped their progeny will be distributed to other parts of the State, although the Commission also expects to distribute a large number directly from the great lakes.

Once upon a time, when crowded about his presidential aspirations, Mr. Thurman replied: "I really have no ambition in that direction." A look of incredulity on erery face waithe only response. The judge took in these looks and related a little story. Said he: "One summer I was at the Oakland House, Maryland, spending a little vacation np In the cool mountain resion. We got to telling Ashing stories. I related something of my own experience when I was present and saw caught a catfish weighing ninety pounds. When 1 told the weight tbeie was a general laugb, and I was humorously awarded the prize for telling fish stories. I quietij remarked to my incredulous friends that I hoped soon to convince them of the correctness of my story, that la Western waters there were cattish of ninety pounds weight. When I returned to Columbus, I went to the leading restaurateur and instructed him to procure roe the largest catfish that could possiolv be secured. He reported in a few days that he had one. I walked over aud found an excellent specimen, weighing 75 pounds. I hid him boxed and carefully packed in ice, ami shipped him to my disbelieving friends at the Oakland. From the restaurateur I got all the recipes I could for catfish chowder, catfish steaks, stuffed catfish, roast, etc., and sent them on by mail. 1 telegraphed as follows: 'Skin your fish before you cook him,' a catfish's skin being so rank as to spoil the flesh when the fish is cooked with it on.' They got my telegram and were puzzled. When the box atrived, dripping from the melting ice, tbey were more puzzled. The letter, which arrived bv tbe same train as the fish, explained all They had a fine feast, and at it formally organized with a president and secretary, and passed tbe following resoluiion. which was sent me: '"Resolved, That the truth of Allen fi. Thurtnuu's statements should never be questionel; that his fish stories are alwavs absolutely true, especially his catfish stories." —Cleveland Press.
Source: Fishing Scraps ©1883

Shipping Tidbits:
The fish are then taken out and dressed and barreled for shipment. The dressing consists in cutting off the head, removing the viscera, and skinning the fish, after which it is washed, and then barreled with ice for shipment. The principal shipments are made to Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Colorado, and New Mexico.
Source: Congressional Serial Set ©1899

There is a party here who has made the remarkable statement that catfish and eels are one and the same species, one being male, the other female. It seems so ridiculous to me that I took the chances of denying it, and now I want some definite information. He says that neither catfish or eels will breed by themselves. While I know that where you find catfish you also find eels, still I am not prepared to believe such a remarkable statement. Please enlighten me.
Butte, Mont., October 28. * R. H. M.
Our first impression on receiving the above was that our esteemed correspondent was being guyed, but remembering how persistently an intelligent angling writer insisted that a fish known in his local waters as the eel-killer was a cross between the trout and the eel, we decided to give the query respectful attention. En passant, the eel-killer turned out to be the burbot, lake lawyer or ling (Lota maculosa). Yes, friend “R. H. M.,” the catfish and the eel are distinct fish. The latter, as a rule, breeds in brackish water and is of both sexes, albeit much discussion occurred some years ago as to its spawning habits and probable hermaphroditism. The catfish is not only of dual sex but is the best of parents, guarding its young until they are able to take care of them.
Source: The American Angler ©1888

Catfish Soup.
Three pounds of fish when they have been cleaned, skinned and beheaded; two cups of milk, heated, with a tiny bit of soda; two tablespoonfuls of prepared flour rubbed up with three of butter; two beaten eggs; two tablespoonfuls of minced parsley; three cups of cold water; pepper and salt.
Cover the fish with cold water and stew gently until the flesh slips easily from the bones; take from the fire, pick out and throw away the bones; chop the fish, strain the liquor in which it was boiled, and return all to the fire; as it boils, stir in floured butter, seasoning and parsley; boil two minutes; pour the scalding milk from another vessel over the eggs, turn into the tureen, add the fish-soup and serve. Line the tureen with Boston crackers, split, soaked in boiling milk and well-buttered before pouring the soup upon them. Pass sliced lemon with it.
Ladies Home Cook Book ©1896

Fried Cattish.—Catfish must be cooked quite fresh—if possible, directly out of the water. The larger ones are generally coarse and strong; the small-sized fish are the best. Wash and clean them, cut off their heads and tails, remove the upper part of the backbone near the shoulders, and score them along the back with deep gashes or incisions. Dredge them with flour, and fry them in plenty of lard, boiling fast when the catfish are put into the pan. Or you may fry them in the drippings or gravy saved from roast beef or veal. They are very nice dipped in a batter of beaten egg and grated bread-crumbs, or they may be done plain, though not in so nice a way, with Indian meal instead of bread-crumbs. Drain off the lard before you dish them. Touch each incision or cut very slightly with a little cayenne before they go to table.

Waffles and catfish are a famous dish at some eating-houses.
Mrs. Clarke's Cook Book ©1899

Baked Catfish
Take a. string of catfish—one fish for each person to be served; clean well, and cut down the center, and let stand in salt water for a while to draw out the blood. Dry them in a cloth, and then dip them in the yellows of eggs, and roll in cornmeal. Have a pan with plenty of fat, lay the fish in, and brown in the oven. In this style catfish are very rich. It is a fish having only the backbone to handle, and can be eaten without the trouble of small bones bothering. Catfish should not be less than six to eight inches in length. .
I Mrs. Alice L. Mendenhall, Kinmundy, Ill.
Source: The Journal of Agriculture Cook Book ©1894

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