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Catfish Stew

Catfish Stew is a South Carolina classic and a comforting bowl of goodness that’s warming and oh so satisfying. Imagine a dish that combines the succulence of catfish, the smokiness of bacon, and a mix of vegetables and spices. 

Overhead of catfish stew prepared and in a white bowl.

Catfish stew is a dish that has graced family tables for generations. It’s more than just a recipe; it’s a tale of tradition, a celebration of flavors, and the joy of creating something extraordinary from simple ingredients. 

So, why catfish stew? The answer lies in the harmony of ingredients, the ease of preparation, and the delightful experience it promises to deliver. 

Why You’ll Love Catfish Stew

Catfish stew is a delicious dish that combines the savory richness of catfish with a medley of vegetables and spices. Here’s why you’ll love it:

  • Comfort in a Bowl: Catfish stew is the epitome of comfort food. Its rich flavors and hearty ingredients make it a perfect choice for a cozy, satisfying meal that will remind you of home.
  • Quick and Easy: With just 35 minutes from start to finish, this recipe is not only delicious but also convenient for busy days.
  • Versatile: Serve it on its own, with rice, or alongside crusty bread. Catfish stew adapts to your preferences and makes for a versatile meal. Even more delicious the next day!

Ingredients Needed for Catfish Stew

Ingredients for catfish stew.
  • Thick-sliced bacon: Adds a smoky and savory flavor to the stew, providing a rich base.
  • Yellow onion: Imparts a sweet and mild flavor, enhancing the overall taste of the stew.
  • Celery: Adds a refreshing crunch and subtle earthy notes to the stew.
  • Green bell pepper: Brings a mildly sweet and slightly tangy flavor, complementing the other ingredients.
  • Garlic: Introduces a robust and aromatic element, enhancing the savory profile of the stew.
  • Dried thyme: Contributes a warm and herbal undertone, balancing the overall flavor.
  • Kosher salt: Enhances the taste of each ingredient and helps bring out the natural flavors.
  • Petite diced tomatoes: Provides a burst of freshness and acidity, adding depth to the stew.
  • Chicken stock: Creates a hearty and flavorful broth, elevating the overall richness of the dish. 
  • Worcestershire sauce: Adds a complex umami flavor, enhancing the depth of the stew.
  • Hot sauce: Introduces a subtle heat, balancing the sweetness and acidity of the other ingredients.
  • Black pepper: Brings a mild heat and complements the other spices in the stew.
  • Yukon gold potatoes: Adds a creamy texture and helps to thicken the stew, providing a satisfying bite.
  • Catfish fillets: The star of the dish, contributing a delicate and flaky texture, absorbing the flavors of the stew.
  • Fresh parsley: Garnishes the stew with a burst of freshness and adds a pop of color.

How To Make Catfish Stew

  1. Cooking Bacon: In a Dutch oven, cook bacon until crispy (about 6-7 minutes). Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  2. Vegetable Sauté: In the same pot, cook onion, celery, and bell pepper until onion is softened (about 4 minutes). Add ¼ teaspoon salt, garlic, and thyme, and cook for an additional minute.
  3. Base Ingredients: Pour in diced tomatoes (with juice), chicken stock, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, black pepper, and remaining ½ teaspoon of salt. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
  4. Potatos: Add diced potatoes, cover, and cook for 8-10 minutes until potatoes are fork-tender.
  5. Catfish: Add catfish fillets, cover, and cook until fish is cooked through and flaky (about 6 minutes). Break the fish into smaller pieces.
  6. Garnish and Serve: Garnish with minced parsley. Serve the catfish stew immediately, either on its own or with rice and crusty bread.
process photos for catfish stew.

Tips For Making The Best Catfish Stew

  • Fresh Ingredients: Use fresh catfish and vegetables for the best flavor. If you can source fresh catfish from your family, that would be ideal. Otherwise, your local butcher or fish market should have some great options!
  • Adjust Spice Level: Alter the hot sauce amount based on your spice preference. When in doubt, pick your favorite, you’ll likely know your preference the best with that one.
  • Serve Promptly: Catfish stew is best enjoyed fresh, so serve it right after cooking. It goes great with warm cornbread!

What To Serve With Catfish Stew

A ladle scooping up catfish stew.

How to Store & Reheat Catfish Stew

Once you’ve enjoyed the heartwarming experience of catfish stew, it’s essential to know how to store any leftovers properly. To keep the flavors intact, store any unused portions in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Catfish stew can be refrigerated for up to three days, allowing you to savor its deliciousness over multiple meals.

Freezer: If you have more catfish stew than you can enjoy within a few days, the freezer becomes your friend. Store the stew in a freezer-safe container, ensuring it’s well-sealed to prevent freezer burn. Catfish stew freezes well and can be kept for up to two months.

Reheating Catfish Stew: Simply place the refrigerated stew in a pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally until it’s warmed through. This method ensures that the flavors meld together beautifully, recreating the same comforting experience of freshly made catfish stew.

Reheating from Frozen: Thaw the stew in the refrigerator overnight. Once thawed, proceed with reheating as usual on the stovetop. This gradual thawing process ensures that the flavors remain vibrant and the texture stays just as good as when it was first prepared.

Overhead of catfish stew prepared and in a pot.

Frequently asked questions

Can I make this stew ahead of time?

Absolutely! The flavors of catfish stew tend to deepen over time, making it a great dish for preparing in advance. Simply follow the recipe, let it cool, and refrigerate. When ready to serve, reheat on the stovetop, and you’ll have a delicious meal ready in no time.

How do I prevent the fish from overcooking and becoming mushy?

To make sure the catfish remains tender and flaky, add the raw fish towards the end of the cooking process. Once added, cover the pot and cook until the fish is just cooked through. Be careful not to overcook, as catfish can become mushy if left on the heat for too long.

Can I use a different type of fish for this stew?

While catfish is the star of this recipe, you can experiment with other firm, white fish varieties, such as tilapia or cod. Keep in mind that different fish may alter the overall flavor slightly.

More Catfish Recipes To Enjoy!

Overhead of catfish stew prepared and in a white bowl.
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5 from 1 vote

Catfish Stew

Catfish Stew is a South Carolina classic and a comforting bowl of goodness that’s warming and oh so satisfying. Imagine a dish that combines the succulence of catfish, the smokiness of bacon, and a mix of vegetables and spices. 
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 335kcal

Equipment

  • Dutch Oven

Ingredients

  • 2 slices thick-sliced bacon sliced into ½ inch wide pieces
  • 1 cup diced yellow onion
  • ½ cup diced celery
  • ½ cup diced green bell pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt divided
  • 1 14- ounce can petite diced tomatoes
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • ½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ teaspoon hot sauce
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 8 ounces Yukon gold potatoes diced
  • 1 pound catfish filets
  • 1 ½ tablespoons minced fresh parsley

Instructions

  • In a Dutch oven, cook bacon until crispy (about 6-7 minutes). Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  • In the same pot, cook onion, celery, and bell pepper until onion is softened (about 4 minutes). Add ¼ teaspoon salt, garlic, and thyme, and cook for an additional minute.
  • Pour in diced tomatoes (with juice), chicken stock, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, black pepper, and remaining ½ teaspoon of salt. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
  • Add diced potatoes, cover, and cook for 8-10 minutes until potatoes are fork-tender.
  • Add catfish fillets, cover, and cook until fish is cooked through and flaky (about 6 minutes). Break the fish into smaller pieces.
  • Garnish with minced parsley. Serve the catfish stew immediately, either on its own or with rice and crusty bread.

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 335kcal | Carbohydrates: 27g | Protein: 28g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 0.03g | Cholesterol: 83mg | Sodium: 1052mg | Potassium: 1210mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 328IU | Vitamin C: 42mg | Calcium: 85mg | Iron: 3mg
Recipe Rating