Catfish Beignets with Spicy Lemon Tartar Sauce

about 4 dozen
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus 4 cups for frying
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onions
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped red bell peppers
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped green onions
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 pound catfish fillets, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 teaspoons Essence, plus more for dusting, recipe follows
  • Pinch cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves, plus extra for garnish
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce, or to taste
  • 3 to 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • Spicy Lemon Tartar Sauce, recipe follows
  • Essence (Emeril's Creole Seasoning):
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried leaf oregano
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • Spicy Lemon Tartar Sauce:
  • *1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup minced yellow onions
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon hot red pepper sauce, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch cayenne
  • In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and bell peppers and cook, stirring, until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the green onions and garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the catfish and season with the Essence, cayenne, and lemon juice. Cook, stirring, until cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in 1 tablespoon of parsley, and let cool.

  • In a large deep pot, heat the 4 cups of oil over medium-high heat to 360 degrees F.

  • In a large bowl, beat the eggs with the milk, baking powder, salt, and hot sauce until smooth. Gradually add the flour 1/4 cup at a time, whisking constantly, to make a smooth batter. Fold in the catfish mixture.

  • In batches without crowding, drop heaping tablespoons of the batter into the hot oil. Fry, turning to brown evenly, until the beignets float to the surface, about 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain. Season with Essence, to taste.

  • Place on a platter, sprinkle with chopped parsley, and pass with Spicy Lemon Tartar Sauce.

Essence (Emeril's Creole Seasoning):
  • Combine all ingredients thoroughly and store in an airtight jar or container.

  • Yield: about 2/3 cup

  • Recipe from "New New Orleans Cooking", by Emeril Lagasse and Jessie Tirsch. Published by William and Morrow, 1993.

Spicy Lemon Tartar Sauce:
  • Combine the egg, lemon juice, lime juice, mustard, and onions in the bowl of a food processor or blender. Process on high speed until smooth. With the machine running, slowly add the oil in a steady steam, and continue to process until an emulsion has formed. Add the pepper sauce, salt, and cayenne and pulse for 10 seconds.

  • Pour into a decorative bowl and chill for 1 hour before serving.

  • Yield: about 1 1/4 cups

Contains Raw Eggs: The Food Network Kitchen suggest caution in consuming raw and lightly cooked eggs due to the slight risk of salmonella or other food-borne illness. To reduce this risk, we recommend you use only fresh, properly refrigerated, clean grade A or AA eggs with intact shells, and avoid contact between the yolks or whites and the shell. For recipes that call for eggs that are raw or undercooked when the dish is served, use shell eggs that have been treated to destroy salmonella, by pasteurization or another approved method.

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