Ever wondered what you will do if you had to kill a catfish to eat? There are several ways to kill a Catfish, some are more humane than others. Most people have their catfish killed, gutted and cut up in the market by the fishmonger sometimes at an extra cost. This is very convenient and in my opinion, the best way to go. But
you might go fishing or for whatever reason, find yourself with a live catfish that you need to kill, gut, cut up and wash, it then becomes a DIY project.
There are methods that are quick and others that are slow. Catfish are survivors, so certain methods take a long time to kill them but physical trauma, although unpleasant, will kill them in a flash.
Most catfish species are freshwater fish so they don’t do well in salt water but it takes a while for saltwater to kill them. Although they can be frozen to death, they can also withstand a wide range of temperatures so it also takes a while for ice to freeze them to death.
Catfish is excellent for frying, boiling, roasting and drying, it can be used in stews, soups, chowders etc. It is delicious any way you cook or process it. This post will take your catfish from the river to the cooking pot.
*A note of warning about handling the catfish
The fin on top (dorsal fin) and the two on each side of the head (pectoral fins) have a very stiff, pointed and sharp spine that contains venom. If that spine pierces the skin, the venom can get into the skin causing pain and swelling. If not careful, even with the dead fish, it can still prick you and it is very painful. The smaller fish have sharper spines. In case of a sting, see http://www.emedicinehealth.com/catfish_sting/page2_em.htm#catfish_sting_treatment
How to kill catfish
How to kill a catfish
Here are five different ways to kill a catfish:
- Using a matchet, cleaver etc, hit the catfish very hard in the middle of the head to break the skull in one blow. Aim for the area just above the eyes to impact the brain.
- Cut off the tail end of the catfish and it will bleed to death.
- Place the catfish in a cooler filled with ice, the cold will send it to sleep then it will freeze to death. This process can take about 3-4 hours.
- Put the catfish in a large basin and pour a copious amount of salt all over it. The fish will wriggle and squirm till it dies.
- Other methods include breaking the spinal cord and piercing the brain with a sharp spike, this is called pithing.
How to remove the gut
Whole fish is perfect for cooking my Point and kill (baked catfish in pepper sauce). Trim off the fins.
- Make a cut through the skin from the neck (under the gill plate) to a small hole on the belly towards the tail (the anus). Don’t insert the knife too deeply.
- Pull out the insides (entrails), cutting any ligaments holding it to the fish at either end and being careful not to pierce any organs, especially the gallbladder. The gallbladder is a small sac containing bile, a green or yellow liquid that is very bitter and, if broken, will seep into the flesh of the fish, making it bitter.
- Rinse out the empty cavity thoroughly and use.
Cut Catfish into steaks (cutlets). See my Catfish pepper soup (Point and kill).
- Make a very wide cut on the neck under the gill plates.
- Pull out the insides (entrails) through this cut, cutting any ligaments holding it to the fish at either end, being careful not to pierce any organs, especially the gall bladder. The gall bladder is a small sac containing bile, a green or yellow liquid that is very bitter and, if broken, will seep into the flesh of the fish, making it bitter.
- Rinse out the empty cavity thoroughly and use. That way you will get clean round steaks.
How to cut catfish into steaks
You can cut your catfish before or after washing. If you killed and gutted it in the market, chances are they cut it up for you. This is best unless you are cooking it whole.
If you are cutting your catfish before washing it, it will be slimy and slippery, so place an old piece of kitchen napkin or paper towel on the chopping board. Place your fish on top, being careful, cut it into sizable portions across the fish. It can also be cut into fillets. Learn how to process your catfish to get it ready for the pot.
Do you have any comments, questions or suggestions, please leave a comment below.
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