Make your own:
fish sticks (regular & grain-free)

February 21, 2012 · 10 comments

fishsticks-baked

I grew up in a bedroom town just west of Jackson, Mississippi. For many years, the town of Clinton had only one fast food restaurant: Dairy Queen. I spent countless hours in that place — after school functions, church functions, sports function — there was nowhere else to go (think of the Alamo Freeze in Friday Night Lights, only not as many cute football players and supposed-small-town cheerleaders sporting $300 haircuts). For many years, rumor had it that our DQ was the highest-grossing of its chain in the nation. To which I responded — of course, it’s a friggin’ monopoly for fries and ice cream in a desperate, dry southern town of 30,000.

Anyway. One of my favorite things to get there was the fish sandwich. With tartar sauce. Because what kid doesn’t like fried fish on a bun?

(insert rebuttals of each and every one of you who hated fish, in all forms, as children. let’s just pretend your plight was heard.)

fishsticks-fish

These days, my kids are funny about fish sticks — likely because we never go to Dairy Queen, and I never buy the frozen ones. Not that I have anything against them — it’s just that the ones that are anything close to all-natural likely cost more than I want to spend. So every once in a while I spring these on them — catching them unawares, sneaking seafood into dinner. Mainly because I still have a soft spot in my pre-pubescent heart for them (time to confess that my own cravings regularly dictate the dinner menu).

fishsticks-bowls

When I made them this week, I had an additional challenge: make some of them grain-free. So I made them both ways, and it wasn’t much more of a hassle. Both recipes are below, you can take your pick.

The great thing about these? Say you find cod on sale — you can buy double, and freeze half of them for a future “convenience food” night. Batter them all, then just bake half and freeze the other uncooked (directions below).

fishsticks-lunch

Of course, to live the true Dairy Queen experience, you’ll need to stick some in a bun with tartar sauce, and eat them through heavily-glossed lips with a waft of hairspray in the air. Perhaps put a Journey or Boston tape in the deck, and keep checking the door for the cute boy that you’re hoping is the next one to walk through.

Really, they taste better that way.

……………………………….

I always make my own bread crumbs, because they’re fresher and cheaper that way. Keep a bag of loaf ends in the freezer — the ones nobody wants to eat and usually get thrown out — and when you need crumbs, just stick these in the toaster or oven to thaw and dry out a bit. Grind them finely in a food processor (the dryer they are, the finer they will be). I use whole-wheat bread since that’s usually what we have, but you can use any type.

You can substitute another white fish, such as tilapia or halibut, but I like cod for its texture and price.

 

Recipe: Fish Sticks (to bake or freeze)

Ingredients

  • 1  pound cod (wild-caught if you can find it)
  • 1/4 cup (rounded) flour
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1-2 eggs
  • 1 (or more) cups fine bread crumbs

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450°, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Rinse fish and pat with paper towels to dry thoroughly. Cut into 1 1/2″ x 1/2″ sticks, or whatever size your prefer.
  3. Get out 3 shallow bowls. In the first, combine the flour, salt, chili powder, garlic powder, paprika, and pepper — whisk to combine. In the second bowl, whisk one egg. In the third bowl, place the bread crumbs.
  4. Dredge each piece of fish: first in the flour, then in the egg wash, then coat in bread crumbs. Place on baking sheet (you may need an additional egg or bread crumbs, depending on the size of your fish).
  5. (At this point, you can freeze the fish sticks for future use: place on a parchment-lined tray, and freeze until solid. Once frozen you can transfer to a zipper freezer bag for storage until ready to bake.)
  6. Bake freshly-made fish sticks for 10-12 minutes, or until firm and golden-brown. (Bake frozen fish sticks for 20 minutes — no need to thaw.)
  7. Serve with ketchup or tartar sauce.

Copyright © Katy Carter, 2012.

 

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Recipe: Fish Sticks (grain-free)

Ingredients

  • 1 pound cod (wild-caught if available)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1-2 eggs
  • 1-2 cups blanched almond flour

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450º. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Rinse fish and pat with paper towels to thoroughly dry. Cut into 1 1/2″ x 1″ pieces, or whatever size you prefer.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the salt, pepper, and spices. Sprinkle this mixture on both sides of the fish pieces.
  4. Whisk the egg in a shallow bowl. In a second shallow bowl pour the almond flour.
  5. Dredge each seasoned piece of cod in the egg wash, let excess drain, then coat in almond flour. Place on lined baking sheet.
  6. (At this point, you can freeze the fish sticks for future use: place on a parchment-lined tray, and freeze until solid. Once frozen you can transfer to a zipper freezer bag for storage until ready to bake.)
  7. Bake freshly-made fish sticks for 10-12 minutes, or until firm and golden-brown. (Bake frozen fish sticks for 20 minutes — no need to thaw.)
  8. Serve with ketchup or tartar sauce.

Copyright © Katy Carter, 2012.

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{ 10 comments }

Amy February 21, 2012 at 10:40 am

Eagerly awaiting your HFCS-free and dairy-free version of the Peanut Buster Parfait.

Living The Sweet Life February 21, 2012 at 11:00 am

LOL – – I can’t wait for that one either!!

Living The Sweet Life February 21, 2012 at 11:02 am

Your fish sticks look delicious :) I love how all of your ingredients are so fresh and natural — im sure this makes such a difference in the taste.

Nancy February 21, 2012 at 12:20 pm

Well, you are singing my song as I have been managing a strong hankering for fried fish. My boys LOVE fried fish. However, I have a problem: Two of the kids can’t do the eggs. Any suggestions for something else to try? I’ve used vegenaise before, but the coating is still dry and crumbly and the oldest complains about that. Maybe I’m not using enough. These look divine!

katy February 21, 2012 at 1:17 pm

Nancy, have you tried using flax seed as egg replacer? This might be a place where it works well, since it becomes an egg-white-like liquid (a mini-prep processor or hand-blender would likely work well for this):

For each egg to replace, use 1 heaping tablespoon of whole organic flax seed, blend until it becomes a fine meal. Add 1/4 cup cold water blend 2-3 minutes until thickened and has the consistency of eggs. Each 1/4 cup of Flax seed mixture will replace one egg in baking.

Nancy February 21, 2012 at 2:26 pm

I think you’ve mentioned flax seed before and I just didn’t log that into the long term memory. I will certainly try it! Does flax seed have a taste? Do you think it will alter the taste of the recipe? Do you think I could use flax seed in a brownie recipe successfully?

katy February 21, 2012 at 2:44 pm

flax is very mild, that’s one reason it’s good for baking. I think it’d be great in brownies, and I doubt the kids would taste it in the fish sticks. Let me know if you try it, and if it works I’ll edit that as an option in the recipe!

Nancy February 22, 2012 at 9:09 pm

OK. Did it. First I must admit that I didn’t exactly follow this recipe since I had some fish batter for the first step and an over abundance of panko for the last. But the flax seed worked GREAT! All the panko stuck to the fish wonderfully. And you couldn’t even taste the flax seed. I tasted it before mixing it with water and it basically had no taste. I am looking forward to trying a brownie recipe with it soon. As I was dredging the fish through it, I was amazed at how good the consistency; it was perfect. Now, it didn’t come out as nice and golden as yours. :) But only I thought about that.

kelly February 28, 2012 at 1:12 pm

I made this for dinner guests the other night. I smiled b/c I made your lemon gatorade as well, and it was as if you were there with us – just like old times – sitting around the Drake’s big table :) Did you know we moved into the Drakes house? Anyway, I would have never thought of making these, but I really liked them (my first time cooking cod, too). It might take the kids a few times, but I doubled it and have some stowed away in the freeze for another day…

katy February 29, 2012 at 9:42 am

awww… how I’d love to enjoy another dinner around the Drake table ; )
Had no idea you guys were living there! That’s a sweet setup!

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