kicked up fish & chips

Raise your hand if you’ve ever experienced cafeteria food.

This, I know for a fact, is something that every single one of us has been exposed to in our lives, whether it be long or short. School age children do it {practically} daily, adults may have a workplace cafeteria they frequent for lunch, or you just can’t stay away from the beloved “all you can eat buffets”.  Regardless of location, I find there is always one thing you can count on – that, my dears, is the classic “fish stick”.

I am confident in saying that this is one meal that gets a terribly unfortunate reputation. My reasoning for asking about your cafeteria dining experience is because, almost always, you can ask a person about said fish sticks and I’m willing to bet you will get the same reaction…eyes rolling, hand flies to mouth, perhaps a dash to the bathroom {from a particularly terrible experience} or just a collective sigh of disappointment. It’s just one of those foods that no one liked, myself included.

That is…until I was introduced to the British staple of “Fish and Chips”.

Photo courtesy of  tripadvisor

While insanely delicious and filling, the meal itself is a calorie and fat bomb. Yes, this is what makes it so utterly delicious, and I am never one to pass up the occasional indulgence, but when I find a meal that I adore oh-so-much, I want to enjoy it more than once in a blue moon. So naturally, I decided to take matters into my own able hands.

Enter these kicked up fish and chips. I have been making these on a regular basis for several years now, and figured it was time to get them on rotation here. By subbing out the deep-frying aspect of the dish for an insanely hot roast in the oven, swapping out the large portion of French fries for thick strings of roasted vegetables, you’ve got a pretty darn good fill-in, if I do say so myself. I cannot tell a lie – I may have even patted myself on the back for this meal. It’s truly a winner. You won’t miss any of the greasy outer layers because the panko batter is so crispy from being roasted, and the fish inside stays so incredibly tender and moist.

It’s time we give those sad fish sticks from yesteryear a second chance – let’s start here, shall we?


Kicked Up Fish & Chips

{serves 2 generously, 3 for a more “tapas” style dining experience}


cooking spray

1 lb. {give or take} of cod, cut into thick strips

1 to 1-1/2  C. all-purpose flour*

1 to 1-1/2 C. panko bread crumbs *

1 large egg*

2 egg whites*

2 to 4 Tbsp. milk*

a few dashes of Frank’s Red Hot Sauce, or your preference of sauce {optional}

your favorite dried herbs {optional}

salt and pepper, to taste

 *for a thicker style coating, double the amount of coating mixtures in each bowl – essentially, you’ll run the strips first through the flour, then the egg, then back through the flour, then back through the egg again before ending up in the panko mixture. This is a great way to get that extra crackly coating!…and my preferred choice. 

To Prepare:

Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil, making sure to come up the sides. Place a wire cooling rack atop the baking sheet and spray liberally with non-stick cooking spray.

Line up three shallow dishes:

-In the first bowl, add the 1 cup of flour and season to taste with salt and pepper. This is where you can add your favorite herbs, if choosing to do so.

-In the second bowl, whisk together the egg, both egg whites, milk, and a few dashes of hot sauce.

-In the third bowl, mix together the panko, making sure to season again with salt and pepper {we’re building layers of flavor here, folks!}.

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Bread fish strips by first dredging in the flour mixture, making sure to coat all sides thoroughly – don’t forget the edges! Shake of any excess, then run through the egg mixture bowl, allowing any excess to drip off. Finally, pat into the panko mixture, making sure to get a good coating on all sides.* Place on wire baking rack, then repeat the steps with the remaining strips of fish.

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Spray the tops and sides of fish strips with cooking spray – this will help them further crisp up in the oven.

Bake in the preheated oven for at least 10-15 minutes {I often find that it can take upwards of 20-25 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish}, until the flesh is opaque and flaky.

I like to serve this dish with a side of roasted vegetables – whether it’s sweet or russet potato wedges, asparagus, carrots, etc. – or a good basket of crispy French fries. You cannot go wrong!

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Happy dining!


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