Although the catfishes are cooked in several different ways, they are, to me at least, at their best when they are dipped in milk, rolled in corn meal or Ritz crackers, and fried quickly in deep, very hot fat. Catfish should be served with Tartar Sauce and, in the South where I'm from, "hush puppies" are a must. Corn bread is also great as an accompaniment.
The "hush puppy" is a traditional part of the fish fry in the South where this little corn pone initiated. The story has it that when it was announced that there was to be a fish fry down in the woods, everybody showed up, and by "everybody" we mean the dogs too. Well, the gaiety of the occasion made the dogs bark and they got in the way of the busy cooks, so, to quiet the howling confusion, someone discovered that something to eat worked. And so, a barking dog was tossed a little corn pone with the admonition to "hush, puppy." And he did.
We might add that "hush puppies" and fried catfish go together like corn pone and pot liquor.
To prepare, sift twice 2 cups corn meal, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper and 11/2 teaspoons baking powder. Now add 1 large, finely chopped onion, 2 well beaten eggs, 4 tablespoons oil, and blend well with enough milk to make a stiff dough; shape into small pones about 3 inches long and less than 1 inch thick. (I have found that the best way to do this is to spoon about 3 tablespoons dough into the palm of the hand and squeeze it into the desired shape.)
Have the catfish frying in hot fat and drop the "hush puppies" into it and let them brown along with the fish.