- 4 cups panko breadcrumbs
- Finely grated zest from two lemons (about 2 teaspoons), plus 1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus optional lemon wedges for serving
- 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
- Nonstick cooking spray, for baking (or olive oil, if desired)
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Pinch of crushed red pepper (optional)
- 4 to 6 egg whites, lightly beaten
- 2 pounds skinless catfish fillets
- Emeril's Original Essence, for seasoning
- Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Place breadcrumbs on a large rimmed baking sheet and bake until golden brown, stirring once midway through cooking, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside until pan is cool enough to handle. Toss crumbs with 2 teaspoons lemon zest and 1 teaspoon salt.
- Increase oven temperature to 425 degrees.
- Line two large baking sheets with aluminum foil. Position an ovenproof wire rack over foil and lightly grease rack with cooking spray or olive oil.
- Combine 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, pepper, 2 teaspoons lemon zest, lemon juice, crushed red pepper, and egg whites in a shallow container large enough to hold a catfish fillet.
- Season fillets with Essence on both sides and press both sides of fillets in breadcrumbs. Dip both sides of fillets in egg white mixture and dredge a final time in breadcrumbs. Transfer coated fillets to wire rack. Lightly drizzle olive oil over fillets and bake in oven until fish is cooked through, 15 minutes (up to 20 minutes for thicker fillets). Remove catfish from oven and serve immediately with lemon wedges and the succotash.
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