Hi-Fi Fish Sticks
by Missy Chase Lapine
Traditionally, Friday night means fish and fun for many families. So skip the saturated fat and the overprocessed frozen versions this week. This recipe offers all the fishy goodness you could wish for, plus a whole lot more. The "hi-fi" stands for high fiber and whole grains, and, with the option for pan-fry or bake these sticks, they've never been healthier --or more versatile.
Makes 4 to 6 servings
1/2 cup flour, preferably whole wheat
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup White Puree (see Make-Ahead Recipe below)
2 cups Better Breading (see Make-Ahead Recipe below)
1 pound tilapia or flounder filets, cut into 1-inch wide strips
Olive oil for pan frying
Combine flour and salt in a shallow dish or plate. Beat eggs with White Puree in another shallow bowl and place next to the flour. Put the Better Breading in a third shallow dish or on a plate.
Dredge each side of the fish first in the flour and shake off the excess, then dip in the egg mixture, and then the Better Breading mixture. Press the breading evenly onto both sides of the fish. Lay on waxed or parchment paper and store in the refirgerator for cooking the next day or proceed to cook immediately.
Pan Fry Method:
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over moderately high heat untilhot but not smoking. Add a few fish sticks at a time, pan frying on one side until the crumbs look golden, about 2 to 3 minutes. Watch for burning, and turn down heat if necessary. With a spatula, turn the pieces over and lightly brown the second side until golden, about 3 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and continue heating fish until cooked through, about another 2 to 3 minutes. Blot cooked fish on paper towels to remove excess oil. Serve with lemon wedges.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place breaded fish sticks on a lightly sprayed cookie sheet. Spray the top side of the fish with oil and bake for about 6 minutes. With a spatula, turn fish over once and them return to oven for another 4 to 6 minutes until fish is cooked through and firm to the touch. Serve with lemon wedges.
Make-Ahead Recipe: White Puree
2 cups cauliflower, cut into florets
2 small to medium zucchini, peeled and rough chopped
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1-2 tablespoons water, if necessary
Steam cauliflower in a vegetable steamer over 2 inches of water, using a tightly covered pot, for about 10 to 12 minutes until very tender. Alternatively, place cauliflower in a microwave-safe bowl, cover with water, and microwave on high for 8 to 10 minutes until very tender.
While waiting for the cauliflower to finish steaming, start to pulse the raw peeled zucchini with the lemon juice only (no water at this point). Drain the cooked cauliflower. Working in batches if necessary, add it to the pulsed zucchini in the bowl of the food processor with one tablespoon of water. Puree on high until smooth. Stop occasionally and push contents from the top to the bottom. If necessary, use the second tablespoon of water to make a smooth (but not wet) puree.
Makes about 2 cups of puree. Double recipe if you want to store even more, which can be done in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or freeze 1/4 cup portions in sealed plastic bags or the small plastic containers.
Make-Ahead Recipe: Better Breading
1 cup bread crumbs, preferably whole wheat*
1 cup almonds, slivered and blanched (optional; omit if allergic)
1 cup wheat germ, unsweetened
1 teaspoon salt
With this recipe, you are aiming at the consistency of cornmeal, not bread flour. Pulse almonds in food processor. Don’t let the food processor run continually; if you don’t pulse it, you will end up with nut butter. Pour the meal into a bowl, and then combine into it the ground bread crumbs, wheat germ and salt.
Keep refrigerated in a sealed, labeled plastic bag up to 2 weeks.
Sneaky Tip: Whole wheat bread crumbs can be found in natural and organic food stores, but you can easily make your own by pulsing whole grain bread in a food processor to achieve fine crumbs. It’s that simple. Three slices of bread yield about one cup of fresh crumbs. They keep for weeks in a sealed bag in the freezer.
Missy Chase Lapine is the former publisher of Eating Well magazine. A mother of two young daughters, she knows how picky kids can be—and she’s got the kitchen experiments to prove it! She is on the Culinary Arts facility of The New School, in New York City, and also gives cooking classes and coaching to busy families hoping to learn how to eat healthier. Her book, The Sneaky Chef, is published by Running Press. Her next book The Sneaky Chef: How to Cheat on Your Man (In the Kitchen) will be out in April 2008. You can learn more about Missy at her website, www.thesneakychef.com