North Carolina has a growing aquaculture and mariculture industry. Local farms produce many species that appear on our dinner tables — trout, catfish, hybrid striped bass, freshwater prawns, crawfish and shellfish.

In 2013, the North Carolina aquaculture industry was valued at about $57 million. Trout, catfish and hybrid striped bass were the major products.

Below, we offer recipes that use farm-raised fish and shellfish from North Carolina aquaculture and mariculture operations. To find good sources of these products near you, talk to your local fishmonger, or visit the N.C. Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services at

The hearty catfish gumbo has chunky pieces of fish and vegetables. Crispy-fried catfish are marinated in Tabasco sauce for mild heat, then rolled in cornmeal and fried until golden brown. Serve up the crispy fillets with your favorite tartar sauce.

Six ingredients top salty oysters before they are broiled for five to eight minutes. This recipe requires some preparatory work, but the results are rewarding.

Hybrid striped bass have a moderately firm texture that makes it a great fish to broil, bake and fry. The broiled bass recipe below should appeal to almost anyone with its terrific flavor. To maintain the fillet’s moistness, baste during cooking. Then pour the remaining juices over the fish before serving.

These recipes were taken from Mariner’s Menu: 30 Years of Fresh Seafood Ideas.

Look for a copy at local bookstores. To order a copy from North Carolina Sea Grant, contact Sandra Harris at 919-515-9101 or Visit the Mariner’s Menu blog at for more recipes. — Vanda Lewis



catfish gumbo

Use North Carolina-raised aquaculture catfish for this gumbo. Photo by Vanda Lewis.

• 4 medium catfish fillets

• 1/4 cup vegetable oil

• 1 cup coarsely chopped celery

• 1/2 cup chopped green onion, including tops

• 3/4 cup chopped onion

• 4 teaspoons minced garlic

• two 14 1/2-ounce cans chicken broth

• two 14 1/2-ounce cans chopped tomatoes, undrained

• 1/2 teaspoon thyme

• 1 small bay leaf

• 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

• 1/2 teaspoon oregano

• 1 teaspoon salt

• 2 boxes frozen sliced okra

• 4 ounces orzo (optional)

Cut fillets into 1-inch pieces and set aside.

Heat oil in large pot over medium heat. Lightly saute celery, green onions, onion and garlic. Add broth, tomatoes, thyme, bay leaf, cayenne, oregano and salt. Bring to boil and add okra. Cover and simmer 15 minutes. Add orzo.

Cover and continue simmering 15 minutes. Add catfish and simmer 10 minutes or until fish flakes easily. Remove bay leaf. Serves 8 to 10.


fried catfish

Serve fried catfish with tartar sauce and a slice of lemon. Photo by Vanda Lewis.

• 6 small catfish, pan dressed

• one 2-ounce bottle of Tabasco sauce

• salt

• freshly ground black pepper

• 1 cup yellow cornmeal

• vegetable oil for frying

Marinate fish in Tabasco sauce for 30 minutes in refrigerator, turning once. Remove from sauce and lightly salt, then pepper. Roll in cornmeal to cover completely.

Heat oil in deep fryer or skillet to 375 F. Place fish in hot oil, and cook until golden brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels. Serve with tartar sauce. Serves 6.

(Note: It sounds as if the Tabasco will make the fish too hot, but it won’t. It will add flavor only.)


broiled oysters

Aquacultured oysters, used here to prepare broiled oysters, are available year round. Photo by Vanda Lewis.

• 3 dozen select oysters

• 1/4 pound margarine or butter, softened

• 3/4 cup green onion, including tops, finely chopped

• 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley

• 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh tarragon

• 1/4 cup fresh cracker crumbs

• 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

• rock salt

Shuck oysters and place the deep half of the shells level on a bed of rock salt on baking pan. Mix together margarine, onion, parsley, tarragon, crumbs and lemon juice. Divide evenly over oysters. Broil about 4 inches from heat until done, about 5 to 8 minutes. Serves 6.


broiled hybrid striped bass

North Carolina Sea Grant has a long involvement in hybrid striped bass aquaculture. Photo by Becky Kirkland.

• 2 pounds hybrid striped bass fillets

• 1/2 cup margarine or butter, softened

• 1/2 teaspoon salt

• 1 teaspoon paprika

• 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

• 2 tablespoons finely minced green onion

• 2 tablespoons finely minced fresh parsley

• 3/4 teaspoons dried tarragon

• 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Cream margarine. Combine with salt, paprika, pepper, green onion, parsley, tarragon and lemon juice. Spread mixture on fish. Broil about 4 inches from heat, basting once or twice with pan juices, until fish is done, about 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to platter and pour pan juices over fish. Serves 6 to 8.

This article was published in the Winter 2015 issue of Coastwatch.

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