The idea for these sticks came to me while shopping at BJ's Wholesale today. I was perusing the frozen food section for some fish filets that were individually frozen so that I could have an easy and healthy non-meat alternative always on hand for Peyton. As you may recall, she is our resident pescatarian and on nights when the rest of us are eating meat, I need to be able to offer her some other protein with her meal. Soy based "fake meat" proteins will only get you so far, and shrimp apparently is getting a bit overdone around here as well, so individually frozen fish filets were on my shopping list today.
Luckily, these days there are all sorts of options without resorting to pre-battered fish sticks, as most of those are loaded with sodium and a long list of additives and preservatives with names so complicated that I don't dare try to pronounce them. In BJ's alone I found the following "naked" frozen fish, some farmed, and some wild caught. There was salmon, pollock, barramundi, tilapia, cod, halibut, flounder, catfish, and mahi-mahi. Gotta love having options. While most of these would have worked well for the purposes of making fish sticks, I thought the mild flavor and firm texture of the mahi would be perfect. I was right.
As it turns out, it was just me and the girls tonight so I thawed just three of the filets and cut each into four planks. breaded them with a combination of panko and freshly grated parmesan cheese, then whipped up a quick dipping sauce and served it all up with some smashed potatoes and peas.
I should have made more.
Each of us wolfed down our filet and were left with a hankerin' for just a few more bites. Suffice to say they turned out delicious and were a big hit with our pescatarian and meat eaters alike. For those of you with little ones who are chicken nugget fans, toss a few of these their way and see what happens. If they (or you) are totally anti-fish, dress up some chicken strips with this breading and offer up some of the dipping sauce too as a change of pace.
Cheers – Steve
for the sticks:
- 4 mahi-mahi filets (or other firm fleshed fish of choice) fresh, or frozen and thawed (each 5-7 ounces)
- 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 egg whites, beaten till frothy
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
for the sauce:
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup plain, greek yogurt
- 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon finely minced cornichons
- 1 tablespoon chopped capers
- 2 peppadew peppers, finely minced
- 1/4 teaspoon pimenton (smoked paprika)
- Mix all of the sauce ingredients together in a bowl and set aside.
- Heat the oven to 450℉ and place a rack in the center position.
- Liberally oil a rimmed baking sheet with EVOO and set aside.
- Set three shallow bowls in a row, fill the first with the flour (seasoned with some salt and pepper), the second with the beaten egg whites, and the third with the parmesan and panko mixed together.
- Cut each fish filet into sticks. I quartered our filets and ended up with 3" x 1" x 1/2" pieces. Season each stick lightly with salt and pepper, then dredge in the flour (shaking off the excess), then roll in the egg whites, and finally toss into the breadcrumb-cheese mix, pressing the coating onto each piece of fish. Move each piece to the prepared baking sheet as completed. Drizzle the top of each piece with a little EVOO.
- Put the baking sheet in the oven and cook for 15 minutes, turning the sticks over at about the halfway point of cooking.
- Serve with the tartar sauce on the side, and a wedge of fresh lemon if you choose.