Thursday, January 21, 2016
CRISPY BAKED FISH WITH HOMEMADE TARTAR SAUCE
Bob and I were both born and raised here in New England-an area of the country that has WONDERFUL seafood available. My dad loved to fish and would go to the beach every summer weekend to dig clams. Family and friends couldn't wait to come over for a steamers feast. He would go ice fishing in the winter for smelt and caught fresh water trout in the summer which my Nana would flour and fry in a cast iron skillet. I've never had fish taste so good since. Those are some fond-and delicious-memories...the trout that is, not the clams. I never developed a liking for those. My daughter however? Loves seafood of ALL kinds-she definitely takes after her Grampa.
When Bob and I got married, we soon found out that we shared the same likes and dislikes when it came to seafood. People rave about shrimp, lobster, clams-we say "no thank you". We do however love scallops, or good piece of cod or haddock. Back in the day, we would order fish when we ate out because although I had a few recipes to cook haddock at home that I liked, I knew there had to be one better out there somewhere-one that gave me a nice crispy crust on the outside of the fish without deep-frying it.
When this recipe arrived in my email box a while ago, I couldn't wait to try it. Could it be? Is this the recipe I was looking for?
Our regular grocery store has a wonderful fresh fish counter, but also sells frozen vacuum packed fresh fish that we've always walked by. With this recipe in hand, we decided to give a piece of cod a try. Since there's only 2 of us, I look for packages of fish that are around 1/2-3/4 of a pound. That gives us plenty of fish without leftovers. Most times though, the packages hover around 1 pound or a little more. That's OK-we make the leftovers work for us.
The original recipe has you cut the cod in "fingers". I chose to keep the pieces whole. If I have around 3/4 pound of fish, I cut back on the bread crumbs that I toast and also cut the flour amount down and adjust the seasonings accordingly. Otherwise, I use the recipe as written below.
I make the tartar sauce early in the day so that the dried onion has time to soften in the mayonnaise mixture. Using dried onion adds a nice flavor to the tartar sauce without watering it down like freshly chopped onion may have a tendency to do. I like cutting the mayonnaise amount in half and adding Greek yogurt-it lightens the tartar sauce without changing the flavor. I stir in the relish, salt and pepper, then give it a taste. Sometimes a dab more relish seals the deal. That's what's nice about making your own tartar sauce-you can adjust the ingredients to what you and your family like-plus it's so easy to make.
I also toast the Panko bread crumbs early in the day. A quick trip-and I DO MEAN QUICK-under the broiler gets them nice and golden brown in no time. Don't leave them in under the broiler and walk away-they toast FAST. I stand right there with the oven door cracked open ready to grab the pan the minute they start to get brown. I give them a quick stir and then back they go for a few more seconds to finish toasting.
The fish is coated using the "FEB" method-Chef Michael Symon's rules. It's the perfect way to remember the order of coating-think about the abbreviation for the month of February. Feb-flour, then egg, then bread crumbs. The fish then hits the pan and into the hot oven it goes for 10-12 minutes total.
What comes out of the oven are beautiful golden brown pieces of fish with a crispy crust and a tender, flaky interior. This recipe gives you the crunch of a piece of fried fish without deep frying it. We absolutely LOVE it. I've made it with cod and flounder, both with great results. We try to have this once a week with a small side of homemade oven fries and coleslaw or tossed salad. I'm happy with a squeeze of lemon over the top of my fish-Bob has that and has to have the tartar sauce-he loves the stuff. This meal is such a treat-and a whole lot cheaper than eating fish out in a restaurant--healthier too.
Thank you so much, Georgia, for sharing your wonderful recipe. This is now the ONLY way I cook fish.
CRISPY BAKED FISH WITH HOMEMADE TARTAR SAUCE
(Source: slightly adapted from Georgia @ The Comfort of Cooking-original recipe found HERE)
1 1/2 lb. boneless cod or flounder fillets
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 1/2 c. panko bread crumbs, lightly toasted
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 large egg, beaten with 1 Tbsp. water
Lemon wedges, for serving
TARTAR SAUCE (makes 1/2 cup):
1/4 c. mayonnaise
1/4 c. low fat plain Greek yogurt
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 heaping Tbsp. (or more) sweet pickle relish
1/2 Tbsp. dried minced onion
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Spread the panko crumbs on a large baking sheet with sides. Place the pan under your ovens broiler for 1-2 minutes until they begin to turn golden brown. I leave the oven door open a crack and stand right there to keep my eye on them so they don't burn-they toast VERY quickly. Remove the pan from the oven, give the crumbs a quick toss and return the pan to the oven for a few seconds to lightly brown the rest of the crumbs. Set the bread crumbs aside while preparing the tartar sauce and fish.
For the tartar sauce, combine the mayonnaise, Greek yogurt, lemon juice, relish and dried minced onion. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving. I like to make this early in the day so that the flavors can blend.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place an oven rack in the upper third of the oven. Line a shallow baking pan with foil and spray the foil lightly with nonstick cooking spray. Place the 2 tablespoons of oil in the pan and spread it evenly over the bottom. Set the pan aside.
For the fish, in a shallow dish, combine the toasted panko bread crumbs, salt and cayenne pepper.
Place the flour on a sheet of waxed paper or on a large plate. Add the 1/2 tsp. salt and black pepper and toss them with the flour until well combined.
Beat the egg with the water in a shallow bowl.
Coat the fish with the seasoned flour, tapping off any excess-you just want the fish lightly coated with flour. Dip the fish into the beaten egg, then coat it liberally with the bread crumb mixture, being sure to press the bread crumbs onto the fish to adhere them.
Place the fish in the prepared pan. Bake on the top oven rack @ 450 degrees for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, turn the fish and bake for 5-7 minutes more, or until the fish flakes easily with a fork.
Serve with the tartar sauce and lemon wedges. Makes 3-4 servings.
Featured 2/1/16 on Tweak It Tuesday