Cat Fish And Yam Pepper Soup (How To Clean Cat Fish)

My 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 🙂

*Cleaning your catfish


Gut, cut, clean and rinse your cat fish; then place it into a bowl
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
Drain the water from the fish and using a blunt knife, scrape the slime off the fish and rinse in cold water
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
Once the fish is clean, use it with your favorite recipe 🙂

*How to make cat fish and yam pepper soup


1small catfish (washed and gutted)
6small cubes of fresh African white yam
4tbsps of pepper soup spice powder (divided)(usually made out of, ehuru, Uda and the Uyayak pod)
1small onion (divided)
2-4 ata-rodo (depending on heat tolerance)
1tsp. dry pepper
1tbsp. crayfish powder
4-6ehuru seeds
1/2 inch of fresh ginger ginger (grated) or 1tsp ginger powder
any bouillon cube of your choice
a handful of basil or scent leaves
1tbsp. palm oil (optional)
Salt to taste


Pour some really hot water over the catfish, let sit for a few seconds; then quickly pour out the hot water. Pour some cold water into the fish; then using your hands or a butter knife, peel the slime off the fish. Then rinse and drain
Season the fish with 2 tablespoons of the pepper-soup spice and some salt; then set aside to marinate for 30minutes to an hour. Lightly toast the ehuru by burning over fire or in a pan(this enables it to release it’s sweet aroma and taste); then blend it with half of the onion and the ata-rodo.
Place the yam in a soup pot and pour some water over it. Season with salt, the bouillon cube and the ehuru and pepper blend. Bring to a roaring boil; then reduce the heat and add the catfish to the pot, chop in the left over onion, add the other half of the pepper soup spice, crayfish and dry pepper. Cover the pot and cook on low for another 10-15 minutes (depending on how big the fish is). Once the fish is done, turn off the heat and stir in the palm oil, ginger and basil(scent) leaves; then serve



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