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Deep South Fish Fry

1 cup all-purpose flour -- more if needed
1 pinch cayenne pepper -- or more to taste
Salt -- to taste
Freshly-ground black pepper -- to taste
1/2 cup milk
1 dash Tabasco sauce -- or more to taste
1 cup fine yellow cornmeal -- more if needed
1 1/2 pounds catfish or other firm white fish
12 oysters -- shucked (or a 10-oz jar medium oysters, drained)
2 quarts vegetable oil -- for frying
1 large onion -- sliced very thin
Dipping Sauce For Fried Fish -- (see recipe)

Combine the flour, cayenne, salt and pepper on a plate and stir to mix. In a shallow bowl, combine the milk with a dash or two of Tabasco. Put the cornmeal in a third shallow dish.

Cut each fish fillet into 2 to 4 even pieces, depending on their size. Dry the fish and oysters well on paper towels.

Heat about 2 inches of oil to 375 degrees in a deep-fryer. Toss the sliced onion in the seasoned flour, separating the rings and mixing to thoroughly coat. Shake off excess flour and add the onions to the hot fat. Fry until crisp and brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Drain on paper towels and keep warm in a low oven.

Dust the catfish pieces with seasoned flour, shaking off excess. Dip them in the milk, allowing excess to drip off, then thoroughly coat them in cornmeal. Shake off excess cornmeal and add the fish to the hot oil. Fry, turning once or twice, until golden and crisp, 5 to 7 minutes. Drain on paper towels and keep warm in the oven. Repeat with the oysters, frying them 2 to 3 minutes.

Arrange the fish and oysters on a large platter, pile the onions on top in the center and pass the dipping sauce separately.

This recipe yields 4 servings.

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