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Catfish Beignets With Zesty Tartar Sauce

Prep time 20 mins
Bake time 25 mins
Cook time 10 mins
Stand time 5 mins
Rise time 30 mins
Fry time 4 mins
Yield Makes about 2 dozen
Beignets, time-tested New Orleans pastries, are usually sweet. We created a savory version that includes the diced onion, bell pepper, and celery that are considered the "holy trinity" in recipes with Louisiana roots.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds catfish fillets
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning, divided
  • 3/4 cup frozen diced onion, red and green bell pepper, and celery
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 1/3 cup beer (not dark)
  • 3/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup 2% reduced-fat milk
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 dashes hot sauce
  • 3 egg whites
  • Vegetable oil
  • Zesty Tartar Sauce
  • Lemon wedges (optional)

How to Make It

  1. Sprinkle fillets evenly with salt and 1/4 tsp. Old Bay seasoning. Arrange fillets on a lightly greased rack in an aluminum foil-lined broiler pan.

  2. Bake at 425° for 20 to 25 minutes or until fish flakes with a fork and is opaque throughout. Finely chop fish.

  3. Cook diced onion, bell pepper, and celery in 1/2 Tbsp. hot oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat, stirring often, 3 to 4 minutes or until tender.

  4. Cook beer in a small saucepan over medium-low heat 5 minutes or until a thermometer registers 105° to 115°. Remove from heat; add yeast, and let stand 5 minutes. Transfer yeast mixture to a large bowl; stir in vegetables, milk, flour, hot sauce, catfish, remaining 1 Tbsp. oil, and remaining 1 tsp. Old Bay seasoning.

  5. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 30 minutes.

  6. Beat egg whites at medium speed with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Fold into catfish mixture.

  7. Pour vegetable oil to a depth of 2 inches into a Dutch oven or electric deep-fat fryer; heat to 360°. Drop batter, by heaping tablespoonfuls, into hot oil; fry, in batches, 3 to 4 minutes or until golden brown, turning once. Drain on a wire rack over paper towels. Serve with tartar sauce and, if desired, lemon wedges.

  8. Note: Keep beignets warm in a 225° oven for up to 30 minutes.