When you're buying a catfish, what you're looking for is, again, something like any fish, something that doesn't smell too funky. You really want it to be nice and actually have virtually no smell at all.
They are bottom feeders, so when gutting them, you may get a little bit of a smell. But, honestly, your fish should always be nice and clean. It should feel smooth, never too slippery.
Some of the stuff on catfish, though, you will get, like, a little bit of his goo. That's just stuff you can scrape off with the back of the knife. That's really not a big deal.
What else you're looking for is something that has really nice gills. You can see that those are rally pink and reddish and really beautiful. They really have some nice color to them. That's always a good indication.
Also, with their eyes, you want to make sure that they're somewhat clear. If they're a little foggy, that's OK. You just don't want them to be gray or completely opaque. you want to see the pupils. You want to see some nice black, rich, pupils there.
That's pretty much what you're looking for with catfish.
Great ways to prepare catfish; traditionally corn meal, deep fry, nice po-boys, catfish po-boys, stuff like that. Always really really good. You can also saute it in a pan. Oil, butter, some herbs, things like that. When it comes to catfish, I'm kind of a fry guy. I kind of like it nice and crispy and really nice and juicy on the inside.
That's some ways you can prepare it.
Good places to purchase fish are places, kind of like having that old school neighborhood butcher, some sort of fish place that's, like, a nice market where they can get fresh fish and they sell it. Every city's got a good one, or more than one, really. And you can do... you're just going to look for a good fish monger. If you're not sure, you can always, pretty much, do Google searches of where you can get fresh fish and some places should pop up.
Just try to avoid pre-cut stuff that's sitting in a supermarket, frozen, or flash frozen. You really don't know how long it's been there or how old it is. You're better off really trying to get in a place where, like I said, getting to know your neighborhood butcher, getting to know your fish monger is someone who, the more you get to know him, the more you'll know how frequent their fish is moving and what you're really looking for.
That's really, pretty much, one of the best ways to do it.