Give a girl a fish…

Michael Pollan, of Omnivore’s Dilemna and Food Rules fame, says that you can eat fried foods as long as you make them at home.  He points out that it’s so much trouble and such a mess to cook and clean up that you’re unlikely to do it very often.  I concur.  So unlikely in fact that I look for ways to simulate frying without creating the issue of having oil everywhere.  Note that my concern is less about my health than it is about cleaning the kitchen.

I had a tilapia fillet that I didn’t use yesterday so dinner tonight was kind of a foregone conclusion.  I’m in a finger food kind of mood (read – time to run the dishwasher) so I’m making fish sticks and steaming broccoli stalks.  (Yep, broccoli stalks are a finger food at my house).  I’m uninclined to deal with a frying mess and cleanup so I went with a recipe from Eating Well via Cooking Light.

I don’t keep flavored pepper or garlic powder in the house so I had to improvise to be sure these have some flavor.  I added lemon juice and garlic to the egg whites.   Good call there.  I used corn flakes as the cereal because it was a better choice than Raisin Bran and those were my options.  And I remember my Granny using Corn Flakes on her chicken so it seemed like a safe choice.  A note about a breading system.  Use one hand for both dry steps and the other for the wet step.  It will keep you from having both hands completely covered in mounds of crumbs. 

These fish sticks have a lot of possibilities.  You could use them to make fish tacos;  add tabasco to the egg whites to add a little kick; cut them into smaller bites for nuggets; coat whole fillets and make sandwiches (just remember to increase the baking time).   They’re really crunchy and taste like fish instead of like batter.  Mine were just perfect as a ketchup delivery mechanism, but might have been even better with malt vinegar.

Good?  Yep.  And a lot less trouble than frying.
Easy? Yes. Just a little messy with the dry, wet, dry coating system.
Good for Company? For football games or if your company is under the age of 11.
Special shopping? Again, just be sure the fish is good. But I bet frozen fish would work well for these too.

EatingWell Fish Sticks

Ingredients
Canola oil cooking spray
1 cup panko or 1/2 cup plain dry breadcrumbs
1 cup corn flakes
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon garlic
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 large egg whites, beaten
1 pound tilapia fillets, cut into 1/2-by-3-inch strips

Directions
Preheat oven to 450°F. Set a wire rack on a baking sheet; coat with cooking spray.

Place panko, cereal flakes, paprika and salt in a food processor or blender and process until finely ground. Transfer to a shallow dish.

Place flour in a second shallow dish and egg whites, lemon juice and garlic in a third shallow dish. Dredge each strip of fish in the flour, dip it in the egg and then coat all sides with the breadcrumb mixture. Place on the prepared rack. Coat both sides of the breaded fish with cooking spray.

Bake until the fish is cooked through and the breading is golden brown and crisp, 10-15 minutes.

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