When I think of crispy, breaded fish sandwiches I immediately think of McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish. That thought might evoke nausea in some people, but for me it brings up feelings of nostalgia and memories of road tripping from Arkansas to New York every summer with my mother and sister (and father once we started attending summer camp). My mother is from Poughkeepsie, NY and every summer, up until I was a teenager, we would make the three day road trip to visit my aunt and grandparents for the entire summer. Back then, my sister and I weren’t as great friends as we are now (Hi Faune!) and looking back, I’m not sure how my mother (and my father for a few summers) stayed sane with two fighting sisters in the back seat. Needless to say, we played a lot of car games, including the usual A,B,C sign game and license plate game, and we even made up a few of our own games. We would pretend that we were part of famous families and go one and on about all our famous relatives (we were really into celebrities back then!), and there was one game that I’m sure our parents loved, the premise was that my sister would do something to hurt me, like hit me or pull my hair, and then I would do it back to her, but harder. I think I might have been the one to come up with that game and I loved the fact that she went a long with it. I guess you do get pretty bored being in a car for eight hours a day.
My sister and I weren’t always great friends, but thankfully, similar to food, one’s taste in siblings also matures as we get older.
My mother was a vegetarian for most of the time that we were growing up. These road trips took place in the early 90’s, when your fast food choices were pretty basic and, unless you were eating at Subway, there weren’t very many vegetarian options. I was a little kid, so naturally I was obsessed with french fries, and it was always an exciting experience to get to eat at McDonald’s. My mom did eat fish, so whenever we stopped at McDonald’s for lunch we got to eat french fries and a Filet-O-Fish sandwich. They always seemed like a treat and I remember them well, one crispy fish patty (these days I’m not sure how real the fish actually is, but back then I was happy and ignorant to that fact), one slice of cheddar cheese, tarter sauce, and two pickle slices. I know some of you may think that sounds absolutely not appetizing at all, but my mouth is starting to water as I think about them, I guess some food tastes never change…
Photo courtesy of McDonald’s.com
Originally, when I was going to make these, I was going to make them very similar to how I remember them, but thankfully some of my taste buds have evolved since the 90s (or else I would only be eating Filet-O-Fish and grilled cheese), and I have added a few “grown-up” ingredients, like cole-slaw, lettuce and tomato.
Make sure to add a good amount of spices to the cornmeal mixture, because that is what is going to really flavor your fish. Make sure all the spices are mixed around evenly and then lay each piece of fish in the cornmeal mixture and made sure that each side gets coated evenly with a layer of cornmeal. Tap off any excess before transferring to the sheet pan.
I was hoping to make four of them, but the man working at the fish counter must have misheard me when I asked for two pounds and he only gave me one pound. I didn’t realize it until I got to the check out counter and since the average wait time in the checkout line at Sprouts is about ten minutes, I decided three was good enough. The recipe below makes enough for 4 sandwiches though.
I’ve learned that blogging while hungry is not a good idea, in my rush to eat the finished product I always inevitably forget to take one or more photographs that I was planning on taking. So, instead I will tell you that when the fish comes out of the oven it looks very similar to the above picture, except it is a golden brown color, sorry!
What You’ll Need:
- 4 Fillets of a mild white fish, I used tilapia fillets because they were on sale and I really enjoy their mild taste
- 1/2 Cup cornmeal, I originally used 1 cup and had a lot left over, so I would recommend 1/2 cup to start with and add more if you run out
- 4 Hamburger buns, gluten free or regular, I used Udi’s gluten free hamburger buns
- Seasoning salt or Old Bay seasoning, to taste
- Salt, to taste
- Pepper, to taste
- Olive oil
- Any toppings you desire: tarter sauce, cole-slaw, lettuce, tomato, ketchup, pickles, cheese, ect…
What To Do:
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
- Place the cornmeal on a large plate or in a large shallow bowl. Season the cornmeal generously with salt, pepper,a and Old Bay seasoning and mix around until seasoning is spread out evenly.
- Lightly brush each side of the pieces of fish with olive oil and then dip the fish into the cornmeal mixture. Make sure that each side of the fish has a generous coating. Shake off any excess cornmeal.
- Place cornmeal coated fish onto a large baking sheet, coated with a little bit of oil, and bake for a total of about 10 minutes, flipping halfway through, or until fish is cooked through.
- Assemble the sandwiches by putting your favorite toppings on the buns and adding the fish.
Cheeto loves fish sandwiches too!