When we brought cod home the other day, I knew I had to make oven-baked fish sticks to satisfy a craving. I remember my mom used to pack fish sticks in my lunches in grade school, only when she was short on time. I actually remember liking them, dipped in tartar sauce. But they weren’t crispy like these- because I had to heat them up in the microwave at school. Last weekend when I was at the Tribeca Farmer’s market, buying milk for my homemade ricotta (stay tuned), I was gifted Ronnybrook Farm’s garlic butter to try, which makes a great seasoning shortcut here. I first coated the fish pieces with melted garlic butter, then bread crumbs, then egg whites, then another layer of breadcrumbs. Use Panko breadcrumbs (all natural) if possible, they’re lighter and crispier than ordinary ones.
I needed a spruced up tartar sauce to serve with my lovely crispy fish sticks for dipping. I had some lonely leftover salsa-verde in the fridge from a barbecue I hosted the other day, so I threw that into the tartar sauce with some mayonnaise. It had some chopped cornichons so I thought it would make for the ideal grown-up tartar sauce. I served it with a salad and it was delicious! Next time I might cut the fish into smaller pieces to make them even more like finger sized fish sticks, but you can play around with this recipe and see what you like best. You can also simplify this recipe by using all natural pre-made mayo and adding chopped pickles for a more standard tartar sauce.
Fish Sticks with Salsa Verde
1 1/2 lbs cod
2 cups Panko breadcrumbs
3 egg whites +1 Tablespoon water (whisked gently)
¾ cup pre-made salsa verde
¼ cup Ronnybrook garlic butter, melted (you can use unflavored butter too)
Salt and pepper for seasoning
1-tablespoon butter+1 tablespoon olive oil for greasing the pan
Preheat the oven at 450.
Melt the garlic butter in a small saucepan. Cut the cod into about 7 or 8 pieces, 1-1/2 inch wide and 4 inches long. Season with salt and pepper. Lay out 3 shallow bowls for dredging the fish, one with the melted butter, one with the egg whites and one with the breadcrumbs.
Dredge each of the fish sticks in the butter, the breadcrumbs, egg whites and then finally end with the breadcrumbs again pressing. Be sure to press the final layer of breadcrumbs to cover the surface of the fish completely. Lay them on a plate and chill in the refrigerator for 10 minutes.
Using a large cast iron skillet or baking sheet, add the unflavored butter and olive oil and heat in the oven. Once hot, remove and swirl the oil and butter to evenly coat the bottom of pan. Lay out the fish sticks so they are not crowding the pan. Bake for 10-12 minutes, flipping once. While the fish is baking mix the salsa-verde with the mayonnaise and reserve in a small bowl.