Fried Catfish with Black-Eyed Pea Salsa

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Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:
For the Salsa:
1 medium shallot, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
One 15-ounce can black eyed peas, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup tomatoes, diced
1/4 cup red bell pepper, diced
1/4 cup green bell pepper, diced
1/4 cup yellow bell pepper, diced
1/4 cup orange bell pepper, diced
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced
Kosher salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste
1 Tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon olive oil

For the Catfish:
Four to Six 8-ounce catfish fillets
1/8 teaspoon lemon pepper seasoning
A pinch of achiote powder
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon ground black pepper
A pinch of  cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
2 cups yellow corn meal
Vegetable oil, for frying

Directions:
For the salsa, combine all the ingredients in a medium bowl. Mix well and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper as needed. Set aside and let flavors meld.

For the Catfish:
Rinse fillets under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels. In a shallow baking dish, add salt, lemon pepper seasoning, achiote powder and lemon juice. Add the fillets and cover with plastic wrap, place in the refrigerator and allow to marinate for 25 minutes.

Combine the cornmeal and remaining spices in a shallow pie plate. Heat the oil to medium in a large cast iron skillet. Remove the fish from the refrigerator. Shake off excess marinade and dredge the fillets in seasoned corn meal. Fry in the hot oil until fish is golden brown, about 3 to 4 minutes or until fish easily flakes when tested with a fork. Drain on paper towels.

To serve, place the fillet in the center of plate and spoon the black-eye pea salsa on top.

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