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Easy Crunchy Fish Filets

Fresh-caught or store-bought, fish is good for you!


Don’t have a bucket full of freshly caught fish, like the lucky boys in the photo above?

That’s okay!  Healthy, low-fat fish filets are easy to find in most grocery stores.

Costco has fresh and frozen fish filets, but you usually have to buy a larger quantity than other markets.

Walmart usually has fresh fish filets in their meat department, as well as frozen filets.  Walmart has really good prices on their frozen fish filets, particularly their mild-flavored white fish like swai and tilapia.


Dab excess water off fish filets before coating


But don’t buy the pre-breaded, pre-cooked kind!  Buy the plain raw filets.  I’ll show you a quick and easy way to make crispy crunchy fish filets, without making a big mess or using a lot of dishes.


Preparing your fish filets


For easy clean-up and water saving (they’re usually the same thing), I first line two cookie sheets or trays with waxed paper or foil.

You don’t need to use the more expensive heavy duty foil for this.  I just use the cheapest Walmart foil.

If you are using frozen raw fish, let them defrost in the refrigerator first.  That’s the safest way to defrost all meat.

Make sure they defrost in a container that will catch all drips!  If possible, defrost meat and fish on the bottom shelf.

The fish filets will release water as they defrost, so be ready to mop up excess liquid before you prepare them for cooking.

Like with all meats, the thicker filets will take longer to cook than the thinner ones, so keep that in mind when you are timing your meal.


Sticky coating first –


The first tray is for dabbing the filets dry with a paper towel, then brushing the filets with your “sticky” coating.

This coating adds flavor and moisture to the fish, and gives the crunchy coating something to stick to.

The easiest sticky coating is a creamy salad dressing.  I recommend our homemade Buttermilk Dressing!  Click here for that recipe.  Just add dill weed to turn it into Ranch Dressing.

If you want some extra flavor, you can sprinkle on your favorite seasonings at this point.

If you don’t have any creamy dressings, you can brush on a vinaigrette, mayonnaise, basting sauce, or milk.

You can also brush on a beaten egg, but that adds extra work and mess.  And that’s what we’re trying to avoid!


Then the crunchy coating –


For dredging the filets in the crunchy coating, I use a pie pan.  If you’re really low on water you can line the pie pan with foil, but that pan doesn’t tend to get as messy as the others.

Our favorite crunchy coating is crushed corn flakes.  The fastest way to crush corn flakes is to put them in a ziplock and squish them with a rolling pin, or with your palm.

You can re-use the ziplock for other purposes, or keep it for the next time you need to crush corn flakes.

If you don’t have corn flakes, you can crush rice krispies, or use panko or regular bread crumbs.  The regular bread crumbs won’t be as crunchy as the corn flakes, krispies, or panko, but they’ll still be good.

All of these coatings are usually available at Walmart.  Depending on the store, the panko crumbs can either be in the baking aisle, or the international aisle.

Put your crunchy coating in a pie pan, or some shallow dish.  To add the crunchy coating, just dip both sides of the fish filets in the crunchy coating.

The second tray is for laying out the filets, after they have been covered with the crunchy coating, as shown in the photo to the right.

You can sprinkle on some more seasonings at this point, if you want.  I like to sprinkle on some parsley flakes for color, as you can see in the photo.

At this point, let them rest for at least fifteen minutes before frying or baking.  That helps the crunchy coating to stick while they are cooking.

If possible, put the tray in the refrigerator during this resting time–but most RV refrigerators don’t have enough room for that.  Just keep them in the coolest place you can.


How we fry our fish –


We think these filets are at their crispy best when they are deep-fried or pan-fried.  Like most RVers, we aren’t set up for deep-frying, so we pan-fry.

Whenever possible, we do all of our frying and stir-frying outside.  We use an electric burner plugged into an extension cord, that is plugged into the side of our RV.

I’ll do a future article on our two outside burners.  They help keep our kitchen clean while frying and stir frying.

We also use our outside induction burner when we preserve food by canning it.

We use our cast iron skillet for frying fish filets, as shown in the photo.  When using cast iron, make sure the pan is properly seasoned before frying, to keep the fish from sticking.

I’ll be writing on the seasoning and care of cash iron cookware in future articles.  Stay tuned!


Three tips for the best fried fish


The key to making the fish not stick to a pan is –

(1) have enough oil in the pan -I add about a half-inch to an inch of frying oil

(2) make sure the oil is hot enough before adding the fish (I drop a small piece of coating in the oil to see if it quickly starts to sizzle), and

(3) don’t crowd the fish!  Leave room between the filets.

Once your fish are golden brown and crispy on both sides, drain them briefly on paper towels.

Don’t put hot fried foods directly onto styrofoam plates!  You will have a real hot mess on your hands.  If you need to use styrofoam plates, put some foil over them first.

You can save money on frying oil by buying the 48 ounce size at Walmart.

Oil goes bad if it sits too long at room temperature, so keep it in the refrigerator if you’re planning on keeping it for a while.  It won’t hurt you, but it doesn’t taste right.

An RV tip – slide your oil bottle into a bread bag, after you have opened it.  That way it won’t drip onto your shelf.

The new plastic bottles are so flimsy, I also take them off the regular shelf during travel, and put them into a safer place.  Just in case we have to hit the brakes really hard.  I don’t want a squished bottle of oil leaking all over my tiny storage shelf.


Oven-baked crunchy-coated fish filets


You can also bake the crunchy-coated fish filets in the oven.  To give them a little sizzle, spray the tops of the filets with cooking spray before putting them in the oven.  They won’t be as crunchy as fried, but they’ll still be good.

Bake them at about 350-400 degrees F, and watch them.  Just remember that thicker filets take longer to cook than thin ones.

Stay tuned for more quick and easy recipes!


Feature Photo by Cottonbro

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