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Fried Catfish

['3 tablespoons plus 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt, divided', '3 tablespoons hot pepper sauce', '6 5-7-ounce U.S.-farmed catfish fillets', '1 1/2 cups white cornmeal', '2 tablespoons all-purpose flour', '2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder', '1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper', '1 teaspoon garlic powder', '1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper', '3 cups (about) vegetable oil', 'A deep-fry thermometer']

Whisk 3 tablespoons salt, hot pepper sauce, and 8 cups hot water in a large bowl until salt dissolves. Chill in freezer until cold, about 30 minutes. Place catfish in brine, cover, and refrigerate for 3 hours.
Whisk cornmeal, next 5 ingredients, and remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl. Attach deep-fry thermometer to the side of a 10" cast-iron skillet or other large heavy skillet. Add oil to come a little less than halfway up side of skillet. Heat over medium heat until thermometer reads 335°F.
Rinse catfish; pat dry. Dredge catfish in cornmeal mixture, shaking off excess. Working with 2 fillets at a time, fry catfish, turning halfway through, until golden brown and crispy, 10-12 minutes per batch. Transfer fish to paper towels to drain.

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