Jun 022013

Crunchy cod!

It seems that Mister Om-nom Sauce and I have been in a bit of a rut when it comes to fish. It goes something like this:

  1. Go to our favorite local grocery store on super-mega-rewards-points day.
  2. 2. Gawk in front of the fish case.
  3. Come home with either:
    1. Ahi ā†’ make tacos
    2. Monkfish ā†’ fra up some diavolo
    3. Salmon or halibut ā†’ grill it, maybe put a sauce on it if we’re feeling, well, saucy.

And that’s really the extent of our adventurousness. Pretty lame, huh?

The toppings: home-made tartar sauce with lemon wedges

The accompaniments: home-made tartar sauce with lemon wedges

There is a pretty huge bounty of fishy deliciousness that remains untapped.

I find myself drawn to Alaska-caught fish (this surprises nobody) so I decided to venture into the world of Alaskan cod. I mean, it’s great as fish and chips, amiright? So now all I had to do was find a recipe that was more manageable (read: less oil flying all over the place, because I hate cleaning that shit up). Fortuitously, my Mom just happened to make this when she was visiting a little while ago, and I was officially in cod love.

Which begs the question: what makes me think that this won’t become our new rut? At least it’s a tasty rut!

Crunchy cod!

Crunchy crunchy oven-fried fish with aioli-tartar sauce
From the September/October 2008 issue of Cook’s Illustrated
Serves 4


  • To prevent overcooking, buy fish fillets at least 1 inch thick.
  • The bread crumbs can be made up to 3 days in advance, cooled, and stored at room temperature in an airtight container.
  • Alternatively, make a mega-batch of these crumbs. They are the most labor- and time-intensive part of the recipe, so if you make three or four batches’ worth of crumbs and freeze them, subsequent times that you make the fish will go much more quickly.
  • I sometimes have trouble getting the bottom layer of the crumbs to stick to the fish. If I don’t feel like fighting that battle, I only coat the top and the sides with crumbs and then cook the fish on a parchment-lined baking sheet instead of a cooling rack.
  • Warm left-overs in a 350F oven instead of the microwave, which will re-crisp the crumbs.
  • The tartar sauce in my photos looks so dark because I used home-made aioli from farmers’ market eggs and the yolks are really super dark. I also season my aioli with a little cayenne and paprika, further adding to the color.

You will need:

  • For the fish:
    • 4 large slices bread (sandwich bread is perfectly fine), torn into 1-inch pieces
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil (or melted unsalted butter, if you aren’t eschewing dairy)
    • Salt and ground black pepper
    • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
    • 1 small shallot, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
    • 1/4 cup plus 5 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
    • 2 large eggs
    • 2 teaspoons prepared horseradish (optional)
    • 3 tablespoons aioli or mayo
    • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
    • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
    • 1 1/4 pounds skinless cod fillet, or haddock fillet, or other thick white fish fillet (1 to 1 1/2 inches thick), cut into 4 pieces
    • Lemon wedges
  • For the tartar sauce (optional):
    • 3/4 cup aioli or mayonnaise
    • 1/2 small shallot, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
    • 2 tablespoons drained capers, minced
    • 2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons white, white wine, or Champagne vinegar
    • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

To prepare:

  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Pulse bread, melted butter, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in food processor until bread is coarsely ground, eight 1-second pulses (you should have about 3 1/2 cups crumbs). Transfer to rimmed baking sheet and bake until deep golden brown and dry, about 15 minutes, stirring twice during baking time. Cool crumbs to room temperature, about 10 minutes. Transfer crumbs to pie plate; toss with parsley and shallot. Increase oven temperature to 425 degrees.
  2. If making the tartar sauce: while the breadcrumbs are toasting, combine the tartar sauce ingredients in a medium bowl. Set aside to let the flavors meld.
  3. Place 1/4 cup flour in second pie plate. In third pie plate, whisk eggs, horseradish (if using), mayonnaise, paprika, cayenne pepper (if using), and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper until combined; whisk in remaining 5 tablespoons flour until smooth.
  4. Spray wire rack with nonstick cooking spray and place in rimmed baking sheet. Dry fish thoroughly with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Dredge 1 fillet in flour; shake off excess. Using hands, coat with egg mixture. Coat all sides of fillet with bread crumb mixture, pressing gently so that thick layer of crumbs adheres to fish. Transfer breaded fish to wire rack. Repeat with remaining 3 fillets.
  5. Bake fish until instant-read thermometer inserted into centers of fillets registers 140 degrees, 18 to 25 minutes. Using thin spatula, transfer fillets to individual plates and serve immediately with lemon wedges and the tartar sauce.

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