Catfish is one of those food items that seems to lack respect. Maybe it's looked down upon because it's a "bottom feeder," but then again so are lobster and crab. Maybe it's because it's the kind of downhome food that people associate with home-cooking, and indeed you will not find a lot of catfish at white tablecloth restaurants. To me, that's a plus.
Where you will find catfish – and very good catfish at that – is at Dino's Pizzeria, a place whose name hardly reflects that multi-ethnic menu of offerings that in addition to the mudfish include Italian, Mexican and Philadelphian (cheesesteaks). Like the catfish, Dino's is not a place that's likely to get a lot of respect. It's billed as "The Home of the Pizza and Wings Deal." You get the picture.
I ordered a small basket of catfish at Dino's and it was…fantastic. White fish in general has come to bore me (I don't need to see a tilapia ever again), but this white-ish fish had fluffy flesh and a definite flavor (unlike a lot of generic whitefish that tastes hardly of anything). The flavor of catfish, to me, is kind of earthy, and I can see why that might not appeal to many.
The thought of catfish broiled or baked…doesn't appeal. Not sure why, but for catfish, frying seems so right.
With frying, if the oil is not the right temperature, the breading can become too oily, or mushy, or hard. The planks of catfish I had at Dino's were really perfect, with just a thin fried shell that was not at all greasy.
Thank goodness the fries were just meh; I don't need more reasons to eat fried potatoes.
Normally, eight bucks for two planks of catfish, fries and a small container of cole slaw would not be a good deal. But for fish done this well, it seemed a definite value, a best bite.
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