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Catfish Fingers with Spicy Dipping Sauce

Fried Catfish Fingers:

2 cups white cornmeal
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 1/2 pounds U.S. farm-raised catfish fillets, cut into 1- inch wide strips
Peanut oil for deep frying

For the Spicy Dipping Sauce:

3/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley

1. To prepare the catfish, place cornmeal in a shallow dish and season with salt and pepper. Dredge catfish strips in cornmeal mixture, shaking off the excess. Set aside on a wax paper-lined baking sheet.

2. Pour 2 inches of peanut oil into a deep fryer or large, heavy skillet and heat to 375°F on a deep-frying thermometer. Add catfish strips to hot oil, three at a time, and fry in a single layer for 5 minutes, turning to cook evenly, until golden brown and fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle lightly with salt.

3. Prepare dipping sauce 1 minute before serving catfish fingers. Mix vinegar, salt, pepper, shallot, garlic, green onions and parsley in a small bowl. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.

Serves 8 to 10

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