What Does Catfish Taste Like?

“There’s plenty of fish in the sea”. We’ve all heard that expression before, and though it is a phrase usually used with romantic connotations, it is also totally apt when describing the culinary world of seafood!

There are so many unique types of fish to taste, and many people have made it their mission to try as many unique types of fish as possible, to vary their culinary palate.

However, one fish that very often eludes people is catfish (see also ‘What Does Opah Fish Actually Taste Like?‘). Not many can claim to have experienced the taste of catfish, and you may be wondering exactly what catfish actually tastes like, right? 

If you are, then you have come to the perfect place. Make sure to read on down below, because we are going to find out once and for all exactly what catfish tastes like, and what you can expect should you ever decide to try it for yourself! 

What Does Catfish Taste Like?

What Does Catfish Taste Like?

Catfish is noted for having a distinctly sweet taste that often surprises people that try it. Oftentimes people go into catfish expecting a very salty and fishy taste, but instead, they are met with a mild flavor that is actually rather sweet. 

Catfish is also known for having a rather moist texture once cooked. This is in stark contrast to many other white-flesh fish that tend to become rather flaky once cooked.

It is also important to mention that the flavor of catfish can also depend quite a lot on where the fish was caught from. Wild catfish naturally taste a lot different from catfish that are farmed.

But what are the differences in flavor? Let’s take a look!

What Is The Difference In Flavor Between Wild And Farmed Catfish?

Wild catfish taste incredibly distinct from farmed catfish, and this is largely down to one reason. Wild catfish taste rather earthy and muddy if caught and then eaten instantly.

This earthy flavor is generally found towards the middle of the fish, while each end of the fish has the standard sweeter flavor you would expect.

The reason that wild catfish have such an earthy flavor is that catfish are naturally bottom feeders.

Catfish also have very poor visibility, and thus have difficulty distinguishing between nutritious food, and mud and dirt found at the bottom of the bodies of water they reside in!

This means that, when you do cut into a wild catfish, you will notice that the stomach is filled with dirt and mud that you will want to clean out before you consume the fish!

Many people prefer the taste of farmed catfish because it helps them to avoid the earthy flavor that can come from their bottom-feeding nature!

The fact that farmed catfish are raised in controlled environments helps to keep them from accidentally ingesting dirt and mud, in turn keeping them from developing that earthy flavor that wild catfish are so well known for.

Farmed catfish also tend to taste a little bit denser, and have a slightly improved moistness when cooked, as they are fed an adequate diet that provides them with the nutrition they need.

This is also helped by the fact that the fish are not lining their stomachs with mud and dirt!

Are There Different Types Of Catfish?

Are There Different Types Of Catfish?

Yes! There are numerous distinct varieties of catfish waiting to be caught, and this means that there are also numerous distinct flavors waiting to be experienced. 

To name just a small number of varieties of catfish, there are Wels Catfish, which are perhaps the most recognizable type, with large wide bodies, and gray color palettes.

There are also air-breathing catfish which, of course, breathe air! Suckermouth catfish are a more unique variety of catfish known for their armor-like scales and unique patterns that make them a delight to look at.

All of the different varieties of catfish naturally have very different flavors to offer. However, easily the best tasting catfish are Flathead catfish.

These are a variety of catfish that are recognized for their incredibly flat heads that are even flatter than regular catfish!

The flesh of the Flathead is naturally much less dense than the flesh of other catfish, which helps to make it melt away in your mouth even easier.

Flathead catfish is incredibly decadent and has an even sweeter taste than standard catfish. Every bite is totally incredible and will fill your mouth with flavor. 

Flathead catfish are also more distinct than other catfish in the family because they are natural hunters, which means that they do not simply bottom feed wherever they can, but actually make a concerted effort to hunt for their food.

This makes them more discerning eaters, allowing them to eat food that is more nutritious, thus enhancing the flavor of their flesh. 

Flathead catfish are also great because it takes an average flathead much longer to grow to full size, which in turn means that their flesh is richer and more vibrant with every bite.

Larger catfish tend to taste a little bit duller than smaller catfish because as catfish mature, their flesh naturally takes on toxins that can impact flavor.

As well as this, the flavor of the catfish will naturally spread across a wider area, making the flavor less concentrated and less intense. 

What Flavors Pair Well With Catfish?

Because of catfish’s uniquely sweet flavor that cannot easily be replicated, you will want to make sure that you pair it with the right ingredients to make that flavor even better. 

There are a number of great spices that work incredibly well when scattered over catfish. Paprika in particular is a fantastic accompaniment because it is both sweet and salty, as well as slightly smoky.

This allows it to not only complement the flavors of catfish but also elevate them! We also recommend pairing catfish with black pepper (sea also ‘White Pepper VS Black Pepper‘), garlic, and onion powder!

If you’re looking for larger ingredients that you can easily pair with catfish, then we also recommend going for some delicious rice.

Try flavoring the rice with lime, as citrusy flavors naturally work with the sweet and mild flavors of the catfish. 

And if you want something simple that actually works surprisingly well with catfish, we also recommend trying out some mac and cheese to go alongside catfish!

The creamy taste of macaroni cheese makes the sweet flavor of catfish more apparent as you bite into it, allowing it to fill your mouth with flavor! 

To Wrap Up

We hope you now feel a little more confident when it comes to trying out catfish for yourself! Catfish is incredibly delicious, and has a very unique flavor that makes it very worth seeking out for yourself.

It tastes mildly sweet, and will easily delight your palate with every bite. 

As well as this, there are also numerous ways to make the delightful flavor of catfish all the more apparent! Pairing it with the right ingredients and side dishes is an easy way to elevate a standard catfish meal into a feast to remember! 

If you want to try catfish at its best, then it is recommended to opt for farmed catfish, as it will have a sweeter flavor that is less earthy. The earthy flavor of wild catfish is derived from the bottom-feeding diet of the fish.

As well as sourcing farmed catfish, you should also make an effort to source smaller catfish, as smaller catfish are less matured, and contain fewer toxins. This leads to a richer taste and a more complex and sweet flavor.

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