Who didn’t *love* fish sticks dunked in ketchup as a kid? I mean, my breaded seafood of choice was definitely deep-fried scallops with a vat of tartar sauce (I had a refined palette for a six year old), but fish sticks were definitely up there — even above chicken fingers.
The fact that I grew up to be a pescetarian is a surprise to no one.
But as I grew up, it became increasingly obvious that the stuff I once loved from the frozen food section of the supermarket was lacking a certain je ne sais quois; basically, it’s battered mush. (And I swear that’s not me being a food snob, because Totino’s® Pizza Rolls FTW.)
But as far as fish stick go, we can do better.
Enter: flaky cod covered in golden crisp panko bread crumbs.
It’s amazing just how much some fresh quality cod tossed in lightly toasted panko bread crumbs can up your fish stick game.
Add to that some homemade ketchup for dippin’ and you’re in for a REAL treat.
These things are even good cold! I know this because the next day, for lunch, I was too focused on work to really bother with that whole reheating thing — so I just dunked these bad boys straight from the fridge into my homemade ketchup and it was glorious. I mean, that’s what us people who work from home tend to do, right? Lazy lunches? Okay cool.
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Homemade Crispy Baked Fish Sticks
These homemade fish sticks are baked to a golden crisp and put the stuff from the frozen food section to shame.
- 25 oz fresh cod, cut into strips 1 inch thick, 4 inches long (approximate)
- Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
- 2 cups panko bread crumbs, toasted See notes
- 2 TBSP Old Bay seasoning (optional) Can substitute chopped fresh herbs and/or parmesan cheese
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 1-1.5 cups of all purpose flour
Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees F.
Remove fish from fridge and let it sit on the counter for about 15 minutes so it can come to room temperature. Once it's at room temp, gently pat the fish with a paper towel and season it with a bit of salt and pepper. Cut into strips that measure about 1 inch thick and 4 inches long.
Create an assembly line with three bowls: one containing the flour, one containing the beaten eggs, and one containing the *toasted panko bread crumbs. (See notes fro toasting bread crumbs.)
Add the Old Bay seasoning (or herbs/parmesan) to the toasted panko breadcrumbs; stir to combine.
Dredge each fish stick in flour, egg, and panko bread crumbs, then place on a clean baking sheet. Do this with each one until you're done.
Place the fish sticks in the oven and bake for about 12-15 minutes, or until the fish has an internal temperature of 140-145 degrees F. If you don't have a meat thermometer, just check by flaking one of the sticks. If the center is opaque, you're good to go.
Serve with your choice of dipping sauce; I definitely recommend my homemade ketchup :) Link for the recipe in the notes.
Toasting bread crumbs: Heat a dry pan over moderate heat. Add the panko bread crumbs and, stirring often, toast until 1/2 of the bread crumbs are golden brown. Stan by and make sure you don't burn the crumbs. Pre-toasting them before baking them ensures a nice golden crisp.
My Homemade Ketchup recipe can be found here.