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Fish and Spaghetti

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This fried fish and spaghetti recipe is a traditional southern dish that is often enjoyed for weeknight dinners, fish fries, and even holidays. It’s made using our Southern Fried Catfish and mom’s famous soul food spaghetti recipe.

fish and spaghetti

Fried fish and spaghetti is a meal that Marrekus grew up eating! Catfish, whiting, bream, crappies, or big bone buffalo are deep fried and served with a side of soul food spaghetti. This recipe is so popular that his family prepares it for the holidays, including Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Growing up on the west coast, I had never heard of this combination until Marrekus and I met. Now, this meal is on regular rotation at our house and on one that our entire family loves. So, if you’re wondering if fried fish and spaghetti go together, the answer is ABSOLUTELY!

We usually make this meal with catfish, but sometimes Marrekus will fry whiting. His spaghetti recipe is also unlike any recipe my family made growing up. I am used to Italian style, but Marrekus’ version, inspired by his mom’s recipe, is downright soul food and is made with smoked sausage and a little sugar.

fish and spaghetti

Ingredients

Spaghetti

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons neutral oil (canola, vegetable, etc).
  • 12 ounces beef or andouille smoked sausage, cut into half moons
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 white onion (or 2 small yellow onions), diced
  • 1 large green bell pepper, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 1 pound ground beef, 80% lean / 20% fat
  • 1 packet of spaghetti mix (Lawry’s, McCormick, etc).
  • 1 6-ounce can tomato paste
  • 1 jar of pasta sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons white sugar
  • 1 pound spaghetti pasta

Fried Fish

  • 3 pounds catfish filets
  • 1 1/2 cups yellow cornmeal
  • 2 teaspoons Old Bay
  • 1 teaspoon lemon pepper seasoning
  • 1/3 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/3 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/3 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 3/4 cup yellow mustard
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • neutral oil for deep frying (canola, vegetable, etc)

Note: We used our Southern Fried Catfish recipe, but you can use any type of fried fish. We recommend whiting, bream, crappies, or big bone buffalo fish.

soul food spaghetti

Instructions: Soul Food Spaghetti

Step 1: Brown sausage and sauté vegetables: Heat oil in a large skillet. Then, sear the sliced smoked sausage in the skillet until browned; remove the sausage from the skillet and set aside. Next, melt butter in the same skillet. Sauté onion and bell pepper in melted butter and sausage drippings until softened, about 4 minutes. Add garlic, salt, and pepper, and sauté for 1 minute more.

Step 2: Add ground beef and make the sauce: Mix in ground beef, breaking it into smaller pieces as it cooks. Cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in spaghetti seasonings, tomato paste, pasta sauce, and water. Return the smoked sausage to the skillet, reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

Step 3: Cook pasta and pull it all together: While the sauce is simmering, cook pasta according to package instructions. Add sugar to the meat sauce mixture, and stir to combine. Combine spaghetti and meat sauce, stirring to coat all the pasta evenly.

Instructions: How to Fry Fish

Before you begin, make sure to clean and trim the catfish filets. Check out our Southern Catfish Recipe for more information about preparing catfish, including removing the fat strip and cutting the fish into portions.

Step 1: Prepare cornmeal and seasoning mixture: Combine cornmeal, lemon pepper seasoning, Old Bay seasoning, granulated garlic, salt, and pepper in a shallow bowl. This will be the dredge for your catfish fillets. Set it aside until you’re ready to use it.

Step 2: Lather in mustard and hot sauce: Spread mustard all over the catfish filets. Then, add a little hot sauce and toss the filets to distribute the ingredients evenly.

Step 3: Dredge and fry: Heat oil in a large fry pan or deep-fryer to 350° F. While the oil is heating, coat the catfish filets in the cornmeal mixture. Once the oil is heated to the correct temperature, fry the filets in batches until the fish flakes easily with a fork and the internal temperature reads 145° F. Transfer the fried filets to a wire rack set over a paper towel and allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.

soul food spaghetti with catfish

Tips and Techniques

Choose Quality Pasta: Start with good-quality spaghetti. Look for brands made from durum wheat semolina for a better texture and taste.

Salt the Water: Add a generous amount of salt to the boiling water before adding the pasta. It should taste like seawater. Salting the water enhances the pasta’s flavor.

Stir the Pasta: Stir the spaghetti immediately after adding it to the boiling water to prevent sticking. Continue to stir occasionally throughout the cooking process.

Follow the Package Instructions: Cook the pasta according to the package instructions for the recommended time. Taste a strand a minute or two before the suggested time to ensure it’s cooked to your desired level of doneness.

Reserve Some Pasta Water: Before draining the cooked pasta, save about a cup of the starchy pasta cooking water. This water can be used to adjust the consistency of your sauce later.

Al Dente: Aim to cook the spaghetti al dente, which means it should still have a slight firmness when bitten. It will continue cooking briefly in the sauce.

Use a Large Pot: Use a pot that’s big enough to accommodate the spaghetti without it clumping together. You want the pasta to have plenty of space to move around.

Toss and Coat: Toss the pasta in the sauce until it’s evenly coated. If it’s too dry, add a bit of the reserved pasta water to reach your desired consistency.

Freshly Grated Cheese: Use freshly grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese to top your spaghetti. It adds a wonderful savory depth.

Garnish: Finish your spaghetti with fresh herbs like basil or parsley, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, or a pinch of red pepper flakes for a touch of heat.

Serve Hot: Spaghetti is best served hot. It tends to cool quickly, so serve it immediately for the best experience.

Serving Suggestions

White bread and hot sauce are all you need! You can also serve it with a side of cornbread and collard greens.

soul food spaghetti

Frequently Asked Questions

Where did fried fish and spaghetti originate?

This meal originated in the southern United States. In the South, spaghetti is considered a side dish and is usually enjoyed with fried fish or even fried chicken. Another popular pasta recipe commonly found in the south is Pulled Pork BBQ Spaghetti.

Why do people put sugar in spaghetti?

People put sugar in spaghetti sauce because it is believed to cut the acidity of tomatoes. One cup of tomato sauce has about 10 grams of sugar in it, so adding more may seem redundant. However, it’s an ingredient Marrekus says he will continue to put in his spaghetti recipe!

What is the best sauce for spaghetti pasta?

Any tomato-based pasta sauce will work for this recipe. Two of our favorite sauces are Dagostino Smooth Tomato Sauce and Victoria Organic Toasted Garlic Sauce.

What is good pasta substitute for spaghetti?

You can substitute spaghetti pasta for linguine, bucatini, or even fettuccine.

What is spaghetti seasoning?

Spaghetti seasoning is made with onion, garlic, tomato, paprika, and other spices. It is intended to be used with water and tomato paste to make a sauce. However, this recipe uses store-bought spaghetti seasoning packets to add more robust flavor and spice for soul food-style spaghetti.

fish and spaghetti

Have you tried our delicious Fish and Spaghetti recipe? Share your thoughts in the comments below! If you’re snapping pics or shooting videos of your culinary masterpiece, be sure to tag us at @cookswithsoul on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok! We can’t wait to see and share your incredible creations with our community.

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fish and spaghetti

Fish and Spaghetti Recipe

  • Author: cooks with soul
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 8 servings 1x
  • Category: main course
  • Cuisine: soul food, southern

Description

This fried fish and spaghetti recipe is a traditional southern dish that is often enjoyed for weeknight dinners, fish fries, and even holidays. It’s made using our Southern Fried Catfish and mom’s famous soul food spaghetti recipe.


Ingredients

Scale

Spaghetti

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons neutral oil
  • smoked sausage (beef, andouille, etc.), cut into half moons
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 white onion (or 2 small yellow onions), diced
  • 1 large green bell pepper, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 1 pound ground beef 80/20
  • 1 1/2 packets of spaghetti seasoning
  • 1 6-ounce can tomato paste
  • 1 jar of pasta sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons white sugar
  • 1 pound spaghetti pasta

Fried Fish

  • 3 pounds of catfish filets
  • 1 1/2 cups yellow cornmeal
  • 2 teaspoons Old Bay
  • 1 teaspoon lemon pepper seasoning
  • 1/3 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/3 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/3 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 3/4 cup yellow mustard
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • oil for deep frying (preferably vegetable or canola oil)


Instructions

Spaghetti

  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  2. Sear smoked sausage in skillet until browned; remove from skillet and set aside.
  3. Melt butter in the same skillet over medium heat.
  4. Sauté onion and bell pepper in melted butter and sausage drippings until softened, about 4 minutes.
  5. Add garlic, salt, pepper, and sauté for 1 minute more.
  6. Mix in ground beef, breaking it into smaller pieces as it cooks. Cook until browned, about 5 minutes.
  7. Stir in spaghetti seasonings, tomato paste, pasta sauce, and water.
  8. Return smoked sausage to the skillet; reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
  9. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package instructions.
  10. Add white sugar to the meat sauce mixture, and stir to combine.
  11. Combine spaghetti and meat sauce, stirring to coat all the pasta evenly.
  12. Serve spaghetti with fried catfish.

Southern Fried Catfish

  1. Clean and trim catfish filets.
  2. Combine cornmeal, Old Bay, lemon pepper, salt, pepper, and granulated garlic in a shallow bowl; set aside until ready to use.
  3. Place catfish in a separate large bowl and add mustard and hot sauce—toss filets in mustard mixture to coat evenly on all sides.
  4. In a large fry pan or deep-fryer, heat oil to 350° F. 
  5. While the oil is coming to temperature, dredge the catfish filets in the cornmeal seasoning mixture.
  6. Once the oil is heated to the correct temperature, fry fillets in batches for 3 to 4 minutes on each side or until the fish flakes easily with a fork and the internal temperature reads 145° F.
  7. Carefully remove fried catfish from hot oil with a slotted spoon or spatula, set it on a wire rack over a paper towel, and cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Notes

This recipe uses our Southern Fried Catfish recipe.

Keywords: fish and spaghetti, fried fish and spaghetti, fried catfish, catfish, soul food spaghetti, black people spaghetti, soul food recipes

10 Comments

  1. I was in the camp of “Fish and spaghetti don’t go together.” I can now say that I was wrong. Your recipe made me a convert.

  2. I love spaghetti and fried fish separately but never thought to combine them together. Your version has made me a believer, such a great pairing! Crispy, savory, and yummy!

  3. I never, ever thought I’d come across a fried catfish recipe that was better than my mother’s growing up. YOU DID THAT. This recipe I sheer perfection!

  4. I love your recipes for when people come over because I know I’ll be able to impress everybody. The fish and spaghetti did not disappoint, especially since some of our friends had never tried the combination. Lives were changed!

  5. My family is from Chicago and spaghetti is also a side dish for every party. I made this for a get together last week and we had ZERO leftovers. Everything was perfectly seasoned and together with a simple salad made a great meal.

      1. Hi! We used one 6-ounce can. Thanks for catching our oversight – the recipe has been updated.

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