Minimal prep, very tasty fish.
Step 1: Assemble Ingredients
You'll need the following:
Catfish fillets (enough to feed your crowd + leftovers)
1 box of cornbread mix (I like Jiffy)
spray canola oil
pans sufficient to accommodate the fish in a single layer
toasted sesame seeds
Step 2: Batter Catfish- Flat Side
Sprinkle the bottom of the oiled pan with cornbread mix.
You may choose to dip your (cleaned and dried) catfish fillets in milk before proceeding; this will make the whole thing a bit moister and help more cornbread cling to the fish. I usually skip this step because we rarely have milk in the house, and the fish drops liquid during the cooking process.
So: take your catfish fillet, milk-dipped or not, and dip it flat-side down into the cornbread mix. Make sure the flat side is fully covered, then lay it flat side down in the pan.
Step 3: Cover Top
Grab any remaining mix from the dipping bowl and dump it on top of your fillets. Put the bowl in the dishwasher or the sink, and wash your hands to prevent spreading raw fish cooties.
Now grab the box of cornbread mix, and shake a good amount over the fillets. Use your other hand to spread the mix evenly over the fillets, giving them a nice thick coating. Working with one clean hand (holding the box) and one fishy hand (spreading the cornbread mix) you should be able to spread and augment as necessary. Now go wash up again.
Step 4: Season
Sprinkle the top of your fish with black pepper and paprika (or the seasoning(s) of your choice). Shake on some toasted sesame seeds.
Now spray the top with canola oil, making sure the entire surface is well coated with a layer of oil.
Step 5: Bake
Put your fish in a 350F oven, uncovered, to bake. Let it cook until the crispy bits around the edges begin to brown, and the top is lightly golden. The fish will shrink up as it cooks. Cook time will vary greatly depending on the size and thickness of your fillets.
Remove from the oven before you think it's done. The fish will continue to cook after removal from the oven, and undercooked is easier fixed than overcooked. You can also remove the thin portions of the fillet and put the thicker pieces back in for a minute or two if necessary. You can use the broiler to finish the top if you like.
The fish should be golden on top at removal, as shown below.
Step 6: Serve
Serve hot or warm. The crispy bits of cornbread soaked in fish juice in the pan are a favorite, so don't skip them when plating your fish.
Serve with something nicely light and fruity, like a spinach salad. The fish makes great leftovers and is good eaten cold, so be sure to pack away a good amount.