A Johns Islander recently requested readers’ favorite recipes for catfish, prepared any way.

And just this past week, someone asked me if there were fish in the pond behind my house. Yes, there are, including catfish.

But I don’t mess with them anymore. I’m afraid they will be too “muddy” tasting, and am better off sticking with storebought.

As I’ve noted here before, the catfish are mighty appetizing to the big birds of the Lowcountry —there’s a great blue heron that regularly dines at our pond. Which caused me to observe that catfish don’t seem very bright, or at least very aware.

They swim, apparently feeding, right up to the edge of the pond in shallow water and plain view, basically serving themselves at the heron’s table.

And a bird’s gotta eat.

At any rate, we have some tasty-sounding recipes from a couple of readers.

Sharon Cook of Charleston writes, “These catfish recipes were the result of a friend’s generosity after a fishing trip. I was up to my eyeballs in catfish, so I put some in the freezer and got creative with the rest. I am part cook and part mad scientist.”

Catfish Cakes

Serves 8

Ingredients

1 pound catfish fillets

1 medium onion, finely diced

1 small red bell pepper, finely diced

1 teaspoon prepared yellow mustard

1 tablespoon mayonnaise

1/2 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning

1 teaspoon granulated garlic

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

21/2 cups buttery cracker crumbs

1 egg

For sauteing:

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons butter

Directions

Place catfish fillets in a saucepan with just enough water to cover. Bring to a boil and cook until fish flakes easily with a fork. Remove from burner, drain off water, and place catfish in a medium mixing bowl. Flake fillets with two forks. Stir in remaining ingredients. Form the mixture into 8 patties.

Heat the olive oil and butter in large electric skillet or frying pan on top of stove over medium-high heat. Once butter has melted, add patties and saute for about 3 to 5 minutes on each side until golden brown. Drain on paper towels and serve hot, or place on baking sheet and keep warm in 200-degree oven.

Catfish Creole

Serves 4

Ingredients

2 cups water

1 cup uncooked long-grain rice

1 pound catfish fillets

1 (16-ounce) can stewed tomatoes, with liquid

2 teaspoons dried minced onion

1 teaspoon chicken bouillon granules

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic

1 bay leaf

Hot pepper sauce to taste

Directions

In a small saucepan, bring the 2 cups of water to a boil. Stir in the rice and return to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cover with lid; simmer for 20 minutes or until the rice is tender and the water is absorbed.

Using a sharp knife, cut the catfish into 3/4-inch pieces and set aside. In a medium saucepan, combine the stewed tomatoes with juices, dried onions, bouillon granules, oregano, garlic, bay leaf and hot pepper sauce to taste; bring to a boil and stir in the catfish pieces. Cover and cook over medium heat 5 to 8 minutes or until the fish flakes easily with a fork and is opaque all the way through. Remove from heat. Take out bay leaf and discard.

Serve immediately over hot rice.

Catfish Stew

Serves 4

Ingredients

5 slices bacon

11/2 cups finely chopped onions

1/4 cup finely diced celery

1/4 cup finely diced carrots

1 (28-ounce) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, with liquid

1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce

3 cups diced potatoes

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

6 dashes hot pepper sauce or to taste

1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper

2 pounds catfish fillets, cut into bite-size pieces

Directions

Place the bacon in a Dutch oven or a large heavy-duty pot with a lid; cook over medium high heat, turning occasionally, until evenly browned, about 10 minutes. Reserve the drippings in skillet; remove the bacon to drain on paper towels. When bacon has cooled, crumble into bite-sizedpieces.

Place onions, celery and carrots in the pot with bacon drippings and cook about 5 minutes until softened. Stir in the tomatoes, tomato sauce, potatoes, Worcestershire sauce, hot pepper sauce, and salt and pepper.

Allow to simmer over medium heat for 30 minutes. Add crumbled bacon and catfish pieces to mixture and continue cooking until the fish flakes easily with a fork, about 10 to 15 minutes more. Serve hot over rice or with cornbread.

Note: If you prefer to serve this as a soup, add 2 cups of clam juice or chicken stock before adding bacon and catfish.

Another appealing recipe is passed along by Lynne Gannett of Mount Pleasant, who found it in the “Southern Living Cook-Off Cookbook.”

Potato-Crusted Catfish With Warm Pinto Bean Salsa

Makes 4 servings

For catfish:

1/2 cup milk

11/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

4 (6-ounce) catfish fillets

1 cup instant potato flakes

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 tablespoon butter

Directions

Stir together milk and lemon juice in a shallow bowl, let stand 5 minutes. Stir in salt and garlic powder. Dip catfish in milk mixture, dredge in potato flakes.

Heat oil and butter in nonstick pan. Add catfish to skillet and cook 3 to 4 minutes per side or until golden.

Arrange catfish on individual plates and top with the salsa.

Warm Pinto Bean and Bacon Salsa

Makes 2 cups

Ingredients

1 (16-ounce) can seasoned pinto beans (lightly drained)

1 (10-ounce) can diced tomatoes and green chiles

4 ready-to-eat bacon slices (cut into thin strips)

1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro

Directions

Stir together beans and tomatoes with chiles in a small sauce pan. Cook over medium heat until thoroughly warmed. Stir in bacon and cilantro.

Who’s got the recipe?

Mildred Browder-Hughes of Johnsonville wants the recipe for cucumber soup that she had at either Saffron’s restaurant in Charleston or the Second Presbyterian Church’s “Seconds Please” Tea Room during Spoleto.

Going, going ...

Nancy and Jim Gouse want to take a more conscientious approach to Halloween treats this year. What can you folks recommend that is healthy (or at least healthier than most candies), steers clear of common allergens such as nuts and still will be appealing to children? Please send ideas and recipes!

Sharon Cook (above) of Charleston would like some authentic German recipes to celebrate Oktoberfest.

If there’s a recipe you’ve lost or a dish you are just wondering about, email food@post andcourier or call Features and Food Editor Teresa Taylor at 937-4886.