How To Clean Catfish


IMG_9536My oh my! I never understood why a fish would be called a cat; not until I saw it’s whiskers of course.

Truth be told, I never really liked cat fish. One of the reasons being that it’s slimy. I cringe whenever I see the yucky slime that comes with it. As in, those things stick to your teeth and it becomes annoying. I read somewhere that the slime does have some benefits (topic for another day)

Apart from the slimy things on the fish, I could not find any wildly grown cat fish. Yes, I kind of like the wild raised fish and yes it is kind of better for you. For these two reasons I gave up the cat fish for a while 🙂

After years of not eating cat fish, I decided to research ways to clean it and after asking 101 questions,  I came up with the best and working process for me; which I hope works for you too.

For some, alum works the magic; just like with cleaning snails. Now, what is alum? Alum is a chemical compound which is the hydrated form of potassium aluminum sulfate. Although it does have a lot of  amazing benefits, I try to stay clear of these chemicals except I really have the need for it.

For some, the use of ash and a sponge works. It was so fascinating to read what some of the members of the Facebook food group “So you think you can cook” had to say about cleaning cat fish. Some used ash, salt, lemon, lime and the list goes on.

I have to say, this process is simple and short, but if you are using the fish’s head; then special attention has to be paid to it as it does contain a lot of blood and can hoard worms easily as opposed to the other parts of the fish. Cat fish are known to roll in mud; hence it is easy for anything to breed inside of them.

When it comes to cleaning the other parts of the fish, I use hot water and a blunt knife. And as for the head, I add some salt and a little lime to help with the cleaning process.

If you ever had a fear of “the slime,” just follow the process below and enjoy your catfish with your favorite recipe 🙂


Here is the process without further ado

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How To Clean Catfish
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: How to
Serves: 6
  • 1 cat fish with head inclusive
  • half of a lemon or lime
  • hot boiling water
  • salt
  1. Gut, cut, clean and rinse the cat fish; then place it into a bowl
  2. Bring some water to a roaring boil and pour it over the fish. Let it sit in the water for about 2 minutes. This will help the cat fish to stay intact when cooking and remove the slime. You should be able to see the slime come off the fish once in the hot water
  3. Drain the water from the fish and using a blunt knife, scrape the slime off the fish and rinse in cold water
  4. If using the head, make sure to split it long ways, pour in some hot water and salt then squeeze in some lime. Let it sit for 2 minutes. Drain; then using a blunt knife make sure to scrape off the slime and thoroughly wash the blood off the fish
  5. Once the fish is clean, use it with your favorite recipe
you could also use your fingers instead of a blunt knife to just rub the slime off after soaking it in hot water.
If you have a problem using the hot water as a process, try dipping the fish into the hot water and removing it promptly. Or you could use the alum method to wash off the slime. soak alum and fish in some warm water and wash gently with your hands.
You could try the use of ash and a sponge too



  1. Tolulope Falode says:

    I love this. Good work girl. Kindly send me your mail we both can work out something nice cos I have a cookery programme on TV

  2. Omali says:

    I am a firm believer that catfish skin should be removed. All those in agreement say amen! Okay, I’m done.
    1st time commenting I love your blog.

  3. Denise Lopez says:

    The final result looks great! I am not a big fan of cleaning fish, which is understandable, but I love eating it! I have never tasted catfish but my husband brought one big catfish home and now I am looking for ways to clean it and cook it! I am very curious! Thanks for the lovely post! 🙂

  4. mmasinachi says:

    oh my! tnx Nma. My boyfriend likes catfish pepper soup but am not a fan of washing out d slime….yuck! d slime always make me wanna puck! am trying this process already.Hmmmm…..can’t wait 4d water 2boil….tnx so much Nma!!!!

  5. henry says:

    It got to a stage i refused eating point and kill again when i do my night thing because you can easily feel the slime and smell horribly, my quest brought me to your site NMA you are showing me a new dimension in preparing point and kill again, thank you

  6. Josephine says:

    Thank you, Nma for your post. I have been looking for an easy way to clean catfish before cooking. I ll definitely try this method. Off I go, to put water on fire.

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