Filleting the Fish
1. Put your skinners away, you will not need them. Skinning the fish is a big mistake as the dark meat and fat will not be revealed by pulling the skin off.
2. Begin cleaning the fish by starting at the tail and cutting the fillet off the back bone all the way to the head, leaving the ribs behind. If it is a very large fish you may need to cut from both sides of the fish as standard fillet knifes my not be long enough to cut all the way through.
3. Turn the cat fish over and remove the fillet from the opposite side with the same cuts.
You now have 2 fillets with the skin still attached.
Removing the Skin
To remove the skin, lay the fillet skin side down on your cutting board. Cut the skin off by pressing down on the tail end with your fingers to hold the fillet, then keeping your knife 1/8″to1/4″ above the skin cut the meat off. If the fish is very large you may need to use a sawing motion to make the cut while being careful to cut above the skin. Do not worry about leaving a little meat on the skin, the flavor will be so much better that it is worth the loss.
Trimming the Fillets
After cutting the skin off of your cat fish you will see a dark colored streak running down the middle of the fillet. This dark streak must be removed by making a cut on each side of it and pulling it off. Some cat fish will have a thin layer of this dark meat on each side of the center strip. This can be removed by making a shallow cut across the fillet like you are pealing a potato. After the dark meat has been removed cut off any and all meat around the edges that appears yellow or clear and jelly like. The meat at the tail portion of the fillet may also need to be discarded if it is discolored.
Slicing the Fillet
If your fillets are too large to fry whole they will need to be sliced into cooking size pieces. Slice the fillets by holding the tail end down with your fingers and starting at the large end slice to the desired thickness cutting at a 45 degree angle. By slicing at an angle you will get a larger piece, if fish fingers are your goal make your cuts straight down at a 90 degree angle.
Washing the Fillets
Wash the fillets in tepid water, while in the water scrub each piece by hand then let soak for 15 minutes. After the soaking period, skim the fat off the top of the water before removing the fish, then rinse in cold running water.
Frying Cat Fish
Coat the fillets with the mix of your choice, then deep fry until the fillets float. When the fillets float to the top of the oil they are ready to be taken out. The most common mistake when cooking fish is to over cook them. Really, really be careful not to over cook your fish.
Using this method of cleaning fish you will have fish fries that all the neighbors will rave about. From a 5 pound cat fish to a 50 pound cat fish they can all be very good eating if cleaned and cared for correctly.