Originally posted by Liketoeat
Bushie, I've never thought of buffalo really as a trash fish, but its always, in my opinion, been several rungs down the ladder from any sporting fish or catfish (though there are plenty folks who surely disagree with me on that statement). Guess it would be cloest to cat but with a "courser" texture and flavor, if that description makes any sense. It definitely rates above drum or carp, tho. Also, its a sucker which is usually commercially caught or netted and sold rather than individually caught. Don't know what it is about grinnel; it cooks up beautifully; looks like a big fine piece of cat & with similar texture, but when start to eat it, it just starts to grown and most people wind up with equivalent of a mouth full of cotton. I'd heard that all my life, but didn't believe till till tried it. Its so with me and most people, though there are a few who can eat it. Only "grinner" I was ever able to get down were a few thin, fried crips pieces (and with fish I like big, thick, soft white pieces).
A redneck outdoor adventure tale for you,
When I was growing up my father was the city attorney in Monroe. The way governments are set up under our arcane system of rule the CA serves as a tacit city manager, so he had occasion to know pretty much everyone working for the city. Well, there was a mechanic at the city bus barn (who will be known in this story as Mr. Snopes) who my father helped out with some kind of minor game violation (I think it was shooting rabbits at night from a public road off of the hood of a truck). The guy owed him a favor so he offered to take my brothers and I camping on a little fishing trip to a place in Morehouse Parish known as the Rockpile (which is located on International Paper land and I am pretty sure that in itself was illegal, but what did I know? I was 14). This place was an old gravel pit that had running water (very unusual in the delta) and very deep channels. Well, the upshot of the fishing expedition is that we slaughtered em. Catfish, gaspergou, alligator gar, buffalo, and grinnel. Tons of them (almost literally) as fast as we could catch 'em all night. They were keeping everything with plans to sell them at the fish market in West Monroe (we also got a bunch of BIG frogs) and all of this stuff used to be legal to sell as food fish (they have since changed the law and you know need a license).
Anyway, Mr Snopes started skinning and cleaning a couple of the grinnel (I was horrified, no one I knew ever at them). He cut the meat up into fine pieces and added onion, chopped garlic, assorted spices and rolled the whole thing in egg wash and flour and cracker meal. They were then deep fried the same way that you fry hush puppies. Oh boy did they make a fine breakfast. Mr. Snopes said that he had learned how to cook this otherwise unedible fish from some Vietnamese guys that worked for the city. He said that the fillets would "blow up" in your mouth (just as you referenced), but that the little fish balls, for some unexplained reason, did not.
While I rarely run into a grinnel these days, I did use this technique not too long ago with one of those pesky "snakeheads" that have invaded our streams and they were damn good.
That was the beginning of a relationship that lasted until Mr Snopes died a few years ago. He had some great rabbit dogs, knew where all of the good fishing spots were, knew when the crawfish were running (crawfish sometimes do something akin to a "jubilee" and you can pick 'em up with your hands if you are in the right spot at the right time), knew just where so and so had a good dove field, could take you right to the wood duck holes, he had redneck outdoor activities wired. I learned alot from that guy and really do miss him. He couldn't read a lick. He was always in some kind of minor legal trouble, had a bunch of bad kids and a wife that came straight out of a Faulkner novel (hence the name Snopes), but boy did that guy know where to get the groceries.
Incidentally, his favorite outdoor snack was a melange of potted meat and oil can sausage served on store brand saltines topped with Crystal hot sauce