Thursday, October 7, 2010
I've never been a fan of traditional "fish sticks" -- you know, the ones you pull out of the freezer and throw in the oven? Even as a kid I ate them reluctantly, and slathered in ketchup.
I wanted to make fish one night and tried to think of a way to prepare it so my picky 3-year-old would eat it. (My younger one has no problem with fish, or any kind of meat for that matter.) Sophie tends to like things in stick-form, so fish sticks were the answer.
I had to make sure they had a lot of flavor because tilapia, if not properly seasoned, can be very bland. On the up side, it absorbs whatever flavors you put on it and it's a versatile, clean slate to work with. I minced up a bunch of fresh garlic and added it to a beaten egg and a splash of buttermilk. Then I grated some fresh Parmesan cheese and added it to some flaky panko bread crumbs. After breading the sticks and baking them in the oven for a few minutes, we dipped them in warm marinara sauce.
There wasn't a single stick left. I've made these multiple times and get the same result -- happily eating children with no table-side negotiating. I love those nights!
P.S. Mom & Dad liked them, too. :)
Parmesan-Garlic Tilapia Sticks
1 lb tilapia or any other firm, white fish such as cod
1/4 cup buttermilk
3 cloves garlic, pressed
1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs
1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
A couple big pinches of salt and pepper
Marinara sauce for dipping
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Cut fish into 1/2-inch strips and sprinkle a little salt on both sides.
In a small shallow bowl whisk together the egg, buttermilk and pressed garlic. In another shallow bowl combine the bread crumbs, cheese, and a big pinch of salt and pepper.
Dip the fish sticks into the wet mixture, letting excess liquid drip off, then coat in bread crumb mixture. Lay on a baking sheet and repeat with remaining fish sticks. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork. If you want them golden brown, broil them for the last minute of baking time.
Serve with warm marinara sauce.
Makes 3-4 servings.
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