It can be agreed that the many types of shellfish and finfish require more care from chefs than the more common meats. Seafood is curiously delicate; some can be easily overwhelmed by spice or seasoning, or easily cooked too much or not enough. Seafood lovers tend to be adventurous – they enjoy exploring unique flavors and experiencing distinct textures, but it is not difficult for a seafood dish to go from delectable to detestable.
Chefs and seafood lovers alike rejoice when they are offered a culinary canvas that can host a multitude of spices and cooking styles – now there is no need to look further. Farm-raised catfish provides a handsome firm white fillet that is adaptable to a wide range of exciting dishes that will please diners and chefs for its high versatility and ability to provide a succulent meal. The fact that it is also one of the most sustainable farmed fish available on the market will delight ocean-loving clients.
From bottom-feeder to rising star
There are many people who still turn up their nose at the idea of consuming catfish, in part due to it’s bottom-feeding tendencies and meat that has been described as bland. But when we stop to think about it, both of these qualities can actually be tremendously beneficial for us.
The concern with bottom-feeding catfish is the wild-caught choices, as they are exposed to toxins (such as PCBs and pesticides) in the sediment of rivers and streams. U.S. farm-raised catfish are kept in separate ponds supplied with clean, fresh water, and the concern for contaminants is all but eliminated. And a big bonus – bottom-feeders are naturally low on the food chain, which we already know equals way fewer contaminants – such as mercury – than larger predatory fish. Farm-raised catfish in the United States are fed a vegetarian diet of soybeans, corn, and rice. They don’t rely on fishmeal for successful aquaculture, releasing some of the pressure on wild forage fish populations.
As for being bland – well, that is truly up the chef. While a high quality catfish fillet may not have the distinct flavor of salmon or the buttery texture of the black cod, it does have incredible potential for a wide range of appetizing entrees. It is beautifully adaptable, lending itself well to an invigorating mixture of spices, seasonings, cooking methods and side dishes. A well-prepared catfish dish can be succulent when served simply with butter and garlic, exciting when dusted with Cajun spices, alluring if grilled with lemon and pepper, and satisfying when breaded and fried in the traditional southern style. A chef has the freedom of creativity with catfish and is able to offer diners a myriad of excellent choices.
Americans have certainly been noticing the catfish, and it has become one of the most popular seafood items in the U.S. Over the past 15 years they have risen to inclusion on the top ten list of seafood items consumed in the U.S. per capita, beat out only by shrimp, tuna, salmon, Pollock, and tilapia. Most of us are very interested in finding affordable seafood options – whether we need to feed a large number of people, or just the family around the dinner table. Catfish fillets will typically be several dollars less expensive than our favorite salmon choices, along with providing more options for cooking.
A quick snapshot of catfish nutrition reveals an excellent source of low-fat protein with high amounts of vitamin B-12 (104% in a 3-ounce serving!), which is important for red blood cell formation and neurological health. They also contain thiamine, niacin, riboflavin, vitamin B-6, folate, vitamin A, and magnesium. Perhaps they don’t have as much omega-3 fatty acids as many other fish, but they are certainly a healthy option!
U.S. farm-raised catfish are the best choice
When seeking out the best catfish fillet, those that are farmed in the United States are by far and large the best choice. U.S. catfish farmers hold themselves to strict standards and endure weekly inspections in order to produce a high quality product. Imported catfish aren’t nearly as well regulated and can sometimes contain chemical we’d rather not have on our dinner plates.
Likely, if you are reading this blog then you know that there are many concerns with sustainability when it comes to wild fisheries and aquaculture. U.S. farm-raised catfish are a superstar when it comes to sustainability, and they are produced with extremely eco-friendly methods. Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana produce 90% of the farm-raised catfish in the U.S., and they farm them in closed, inland ponds using recirculated fresh water – so there is no waste pollution of the natural environment and no risk for escaped fish to spread disease to wild populations.
A well-rounded seafood option
Sustainable, versatile, affordable, healthy – farm-raised catfish can check off on all of these qualities. It is not often we come across such a well-rounded seafood option and I would urge you to take advantage of it. Order your wholesale catfish today from Pucci Foods and your family and your clients can enjoy a healthy, delicious meal while knowing it is safe and ocean-friendly.