Here’s a frugal homemade fish tenders recipe from Trish — enjoy!
Homemade kid-friendly fish sticks, anyone?
Welcome to Frugal Homemade! This week, I am sharing my favorite low-guilt “kid dinner:” Crunchy Homemade Fish Tenders! I made these last night along with roasted carrots, and my four-year-old could not have been happier — although I’ll admit, I did enjoy them as well.
(These homemade fish tenders freeze really well, too, so I was able to freeze a few servings for future meals with babysitters or quick weeknight dinners.)
Tender fish + crunchy coating, always a hit
These homemade fish tenders are a great kid-friendly dish that can be made ahead and frozen for those times when you need to feed a kid quickly and separately and don’t want to serve overly processed junk. The recipe might seem less frugal than buying a box of frozen breaded fish, but you are getting way more bang for your buck due to the amount of quality fish in each serving.
Plus these taste way better, so you can feed them to your whole family!
Choosing your fish
Cod is a great choice for this recipe because it is nice and firm, very low in fat (which helps balance out the frying aspect), and has a mild taste. Cod is generally wild-caught and either domestic or Canadian, which is nice — and, best of all it goes on sale often! If you don’t have cod on hand, you can also use sole, haddock, halibut, or any other fairly firm white fish.
To go along with these homemade fish tenders I like to make my own tartar sauce, based on Emeril’s here, but they are also great with my semi-homemade version (mayo, sweet relish, lemon juice, white pepper, salt, all to taste). Your favorite bottle of tartar sauce would also be just fine if you have some on hand (I never do)!
Crunchy Homemade Fish Tenders
Start by prepping your assembly line
Cut your fish into sticks that are about 3 inches long and ¾ inch square. (I am using 2 lbs of fish here, so that I’ll have plenty left over for future quick meals.) Your fish sticks don’t have to be totally uniform; it won’t be possible, since the width of the fillet varies. No worries, it will work fine.
Season the fish strips with salt and pepper.
Set out three additional bowls. In one, add a cup of flour and 2-3 teaspoons of seasoning. I am using Ruth Ann’s Muskego Avenue seasoning from Penzey’s (mainly because I got it as a freebie and it sounded good, but I wasn’t sure what else to do with it). This particular blend contains salt, black pepper, garlic, lemon peel, and onion; it worked out great for this, but you can use Old Bay, Cajun seasoning, or any other blend or custom spice mixture you like. In the second bowl, lightly beat three eggs. In the last bowl, add about 2 cups of panko.
Now, bread your fish
And now begins the painstaking process of dredging each piece of fish in the seasoned flour, dipping it in egg, and coating it with panko. This is tedious, I am not going to lie. But if you try to keep one hand dry and use it only for helping the the panko stick to the fish, it will help you avoid turning your hand in to a huge mitt of wet flour and breadcrumbs.
Place the prepared strips on a baking sheet.
Being done with that part is a great feeling!
Finish by frying up your fish
Heat ¼ inch of canola oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is nice and hot, add the breaded fish in a single layer, without overcrowding the pan.
After about two minutes, the bottom will be golden brown. Flip all of the fish and fry for another two minutes to brown the other side.
Remove the fish to a baking sheet lined with paper to drain. Brown paper is better than paper towels because it lets the oil drain without being too absorbent so as to make the breading soggy. But, if you don’t have a clean brown paper bag lying around, use paper towels (stiffer, cheaper ones are better than something like Viva for this) — just don’t let the fish sit on there too long.
Let the leftovers cool completely and freeze in a plastic bag for easy access. To reheat, bake at 400° for 15-20 minutes.
Crunchy Homemade Fish Tenders, printable recipe
Crunchy Homemade Fish Tenders
- 2 lbs cod or other firm white fish fillets
- Kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup flour
- 2-3 teaspoons seafood-friendly seasoning blend or seasoning of your choice
- 3 eggs
- 2 cups panko breadcrumbs
- canola oil, for frying
- Cut your fish into sticks that are roughly 3 inches long and ¾ inch square.
- Season the fish strips with salt and pepper.
- In each of three bowls add: a cup of flour and your seasoning of choice; three eggs, lightly beaten; 2 cups of panko.
- Dredge each piece of fish in the seasoned flour, dip in egg, and coat with panko. Place breaded fish on a baking sheet.
- Heat ¼ inch of canola oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat.
- When the oil is nice and hot, add the breaded fish in a single layer, without overcrowding. Cook for two minutes, until golden brown.
- Flip the fish pieces and fry for another two minutes on the other side.
- Remove the fish to a paper-lined baking sheet to drain.
- Serve with tartar sauce.
- To reheat from frozen, bake in a 400° oven for 15-20 minutes, turning halfway through cooking time.
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