My mother hates to cook. But if you ask her why she did it, religiously, everyday, for practically every one of our meals, she’ll tell you she did it out of necessity. Having grown up on a farm (a real farm, one with domesticated farm animals, manure, outhouses and light years from the nearest grocery store), the thought of eating processed/microwaveable/’fast’ food was completely foreign to her and downright terrifying.
On days when my mother was either exhausted or temporarily demented, she would buy frozen fish sticks for my sister and me. Once home, mom couldn’t’ be bothered to fry or oven-bake our fish sticks. Therefore, my sister and I were forced to microwave the fish sticks, resulting in…well, soggy fish sticks that were on the flaccid end of the rigidity spectrum. As our fish ‘sticks’ couldn’t withstand a dunk in ketchup, my sister and I zigzagged ketchup on each fish stick and then stuffed our bendable food item in between two pieces of squishy white bread. Yum.
Yum, that is, until I grew up, became an adult and discovered that the fish sticks contain some kind of processed mish-mash filling of minimal amounts of FISH and a frightening number of unidentifiable ingredients like Disodium Guanylate.
I don’t believe the frozen fish stick, whether fried, baked or microwaved, is going to outright kill you or necessarily preserve your body 200 years after your death. Frozen fish sticks fried up to a crunchy, savory and gorgeous crisp are the best. I love it. Who doesn’t? But if you, like me, are concerned about eating too many items from the processed food aisle, try my recipe for Fish Tenders.
This recipe includes relatively ‘healthy ‘ ingredients, but I draw the line at baking these. However, please feel free to bake them as baking them would further reduce the fat content (I would skip the flour part and just do the egg and panko dunk). I justify my frying and fully embrace the crispy, juicy nature of these scrumptious Fish Tenders as I try to use minimal amounts of olive oil and only occasionally serve this dish to the family.
2 filets of Tilapia (or any other firm, white fish, like Cod)
1 cup of organic whole-wheat pastry flour
2 cups of organic whole-wheat panko (Japanese Bread Crumbs, if can’t find, use Italian Bread Crumbs)
2 teaspoons of salt
1 teaspoon of pepper
1 tablespoon of paprika
2 organic egg whites
2 tablespoons of sweet red chili sauce (like Thai Kitchen brand)
Slice your tilapia into strips thicker than a thumb. Sprinkle your fish strips with some salt and pepper.
Combine your flour, some salt, pepper and paprika on a plate. On a separate plate, combine your panko some salt, pepper and paprika. On a third plate, place your egg whites with the sweet red chili sauce and mix until well combined.
First, dunk your fish in the flour. Shake off excess flour and then dunk the fish into the egg mixture. Next, dunk your fish into the panko and thoroughly cover. Repeat these steps with the remaining fish strips.
Heat your frying pan on medium heat and add enough olive oil to more than coat the bottom of your pan. Once hot, add a few piece of coated fish to the pan and cook on each side for about 2-3 minutes. Place cooked fish on paper towels to remove excess oil. Cool slightly and eat immediately.