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Cornmeal-Crusted Fried Catfish

Serves 4

This is a typical southern presentation for catfish. It is a quick, easy and delicious seafood main dish. The combination of buttermilk and cornmeal adds a nice flavor and forms a crust that becomes light and crunchy with very little oil. If you prefer a slightly thicker crust, dip the fillets first in flour, then in the buttermilk, followed by the cornmeal. The recipe can be made in any amount needed.

Ingredients

On a flat dish, mix together the cornmeal, paprika, salt and pepper. Place the buttermilk in a large shallow bowl. Dredge the fillets first in the milk, then in the cornmeal mixture, shaking lightly to remove excess. Place on a rack. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. (The refrigeration step can be omitted, but chilling helps the coating adhere to the fish during frying.) Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Carefully place each fillet in pan and fry until golden brown and cooked, about 4 minutes per side depending on thickness. (If necessary, fry the catfish in batches.) Remove from pan and return to rack for about 1 minute to drain excess oil. Serve immediately, passing lemon wedges and tartar sauce separately.

Notes: If you do not have buttermilk on hand, you can make your own very quickly. For this recipe, add 1-1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice to 1/2 cup milk. Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes before using.