Are you imagining a cafeteria right now?
Or any unexciting dinner that your mom served on the cheap?
Fish sticks normally aren’t viewed in the best of lights. But there is no reason why fish sticks can’t be Good Eats.
And now thanks to Alton Brown, they are.
In a recent episode of Good Eats – Reloaded (it’s a reload not a reunion!), Alton offered the world a better fish stick. One that isn’t a mass produced, frozen nugget, that contains more filler than actual fish.
Alton remarked that he now makes fish sticks and chips instead of fish and chips. At first, I didn’t think that sounded like a good thing. My love for fried cod fillets is well established, how dare you take them away, Alton. I kept the faith before seeing the recipe and trying it for myself.
Here are my notes from this recipe:
- The recipe says to chop up the cod when it really cold, even slightly frozen. I wholeheartedly agree. It wasn’t hard as all to chop the fish up. If it was soft it would have been virtually impossible with a high risk of cutting myself.
- The hardest thing about this recipe was taking the fish after it was shaped and breaded it. It was easier for them to fall apart. Gentleness was required. Next time I would try putting them in the freezer briefly just to firm them up, not freeze them.
- What’s so awesome about this recipe is that the fish is well seasoned inside. You aren’t biting into a flavorless fish inside and being forced to rely on tartar sauce for flavor. In fact, forget the tartar sauce all together, it’s not needed here – but I am not denying you your right to use!
- Frying is simple. No issues there. They come out perfectly golden brown in about 2 1/2 to 3 minutes. Crisp outside. Flaky inside.
My oldest daughter is our fish fan. I wasn’t sure how she would like them. These are more “adult” flavored fish sticks – no there is no alcohol in them. She hasn’t really come around with mustard yet, but I think we are getting there as she loved these fish sticks. Making them again is surely something she wants us to do.
My thoughts are these are the best fish sticks ever. Surprisingly I actually didn’t grow up eating many frozen fish sticks. Just wasn’t something we served. Fortunately I haven’t had a lot of bad fish sticks. I can still tell, these are pretty good. They beat the fish nuggets that are popular from Trader Joe’s.
Alton Brown’s Fish Sticks
Homemade fish sticks made from cod with mayo and Dijon mustard inside. Recipe is by Alton Brown. The Instructions are written in my own words.
- 1 pound cod fillets
- 1 3/4 cups Panko bread crumbs
- 3 large eggs
- 1 TBSP mayonnaise
- 1 TBSP Dijon mustard you can sub other mustards
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper can be optional
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 1 quart peanut oil or other frying oil
If fish is fresh, place into freezer for 30 minutes to harden it up (it will be easier to cut). If fish is frozen, thaw it until it’s not completely thaw but soft enough to get a knife through it.
Finely chop the fish with a chef’s knife.
Add the chopped fish to a mixing bowl along with 3/4 cup of the Panko, 1 egg, mayonnaise, mustard, onion powder, salt and cayenne pepper. Mix to combine.
Form the fish into the shape of a stick or log about 1 1/2 ounces in size and place it onto a sheet pan or platter. The key thing is to try and get the fish to be about the same size for even cooking. I use a kitchen scale to weight out each piece.
Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. This will make breading the fish easier as the fish won’t fall apart in your hands. If you can fit them place them in the freezer to stiffen up, but don’t freeze them all the way.
Grab three shallow pans and/or bowl. Add flour to one bowl. Add eggs to another bowl, scramble them. Add remaining Panko bread crumbs to the last bowl.
After 30 mintues, place each stick on at a time into the flour mixture. Coat throughly, then move to the egg mixture, gently remove and let any excess drip off, then gently rolled them into the Panko. Set the finished stick onto a plate and continue until all the fish is coated.
Heat up your oil in a Dutch oven or heavy bottom pan. Use a thermometer to gauge when the oil hits 350 degrees. Regularly check the temperature and adjust your heat up and down accordingly to maintain as close to 350.
Fry the sticks in at least 2 batches so not to overcrowd your pan or reduce the temperature of your oil. Cook for 2 to 3 mintues or until golden brown.
Remove to a sheet pan covered in paper towel, topped with a drying rack inverted to help wick away excess oil. Allow to cool a few minutes before serving.
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