Walking Catfish

Whole Walking Catfish [Clarias batrachus (Southeast Asian), also C. gareipinus (North African) and hybrids of the two]

This air breathing catfish quickly becomes a pest in subtropical regions, especially since it can travel fairly long distances over land from one body of water to another. Brought to Florida for fish farming, it escaped and is now notorious for invading fish farms and eating all the fish.

Native to Southeast Asia, the walking catfish can grow to over 18 inches and over 2-1/2 pounds but the photo specimen was 17 inches and 1-1/2 pounds. Hybrids with the North African variety can be much larger, and that variety itself can grow to 120 pounds.   -   More on Catfish.


Opened Walking Catfish Head

The flesh of the Walking Catfish is darker than that of other commercial catfish but not markedly different in flavor. The flesh remains firm and does not flake apart with moderate cooking so it's a good fish for soups and stews.

Buying:   This catfish can be found in many Philippine and East Asian fish markets. It is easily recognizable by it's almost full length dorsal fin. It is often labeled "Yellow Catfish", but that's properly a completely different fish, the Flathead Catfish.

Prep & Cooking:   This fish works pretty much like any other catfish. The bones are large and easily avoided so it can be filleted easily or you can just cut the fish into segments and toss them into a soup as is done in many ethnic restaurants.

The 1-1/2 pound fish in the photo yielded 13 oz of skin-on fillet (54%) and 11 ounces skinned (46%). The head and bones make a light fish stock of typical catfish flavor. The head is solid bone and to remove the gills (and rudimentary lungs) you have to use kitchen shears to snip under the front of the jaw, then hinge the bottom back as shown.

For further details on prep and cooking see Channel Catfish.

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