William’s Everyday Dishes: homemade fish fingers

Fish fingers are one of the all time great comfort foods. And what is not to love about a miniature version of fish and chips? You get a much better ratio of breadcrumb to fish, and they are so easy to cook! Take them out of the packet, put them in the oven… no but seriously, let’s make them at home. The taste is in a different league to the processed fish you typically find frozen in the depths of a Tesco freezer, and this way you can choose whichever fish you fancy.

Start with some fish fillets: salmon, cod, pollock, and seabass all work well. You will need 100 grams per person. Cut them into generous strips. Then comes the fun part; get two plates and a bowl. Crack 2 eggs into the bowl and add a splash of milk. Whisk until well combined.

On one plate put flour with salt and pepper, and on the other put breadcrumbs. You can either use fresh breadcrumbs by blitzing up fresh bread in a blender, or you can buy premade breadcrumbs. The premade version are inexpensive and you may find that they work better as they are drier – use them and you are sure to get a good crust on your fingers!

Take the fish strips and dip in the flour, then the egg and then the breadcrumbs. Make sure you cover all the parts of the fish. In French this is called panné: literally meaning to ‘breadify’.

When they are all properly covered get the pan going: fill a deep frying pan/saucepan with 2 inches of oil. Best to steer clear of olive oil for this. (For a healthier, baked version,  skip ahead two paragraphs).

When the oil is hot (you can sprinkle some breadcrumbs in: if they float and fizz the oil is ready), add the fingers a few at a time. They should float, fizz and generally look pretty cool. Flip them in the oil after 2 minutes and continue cooking for a further 2 minutes. When cooked they will be golden brown and crispy. Place on a plate with a paper towel to soak up any excess oil. Then sprinkle with salt, pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice.

If you want to avoid the oil and create a healthier dish, set the oven to 200C and place them on a baking tray. Brush them with oil and cook for 20 minutes until golden brown.

Want to make a kickass tartare sauce for this dish? Start with 2 good dollops of mayonnaise. Then chop up 2 teaspoons of capers (cheap and available in most supermarkets). Chop up 2 gherkins and a clove of garlic. Add a sprig or two of any fresh herbs you have (parsley, mint and coriander are all good). Mix up with a spoon and you are ready to dip.

Serve your fish fingers immediately. If you want to hark back to school days serve with mashed potato and peas. If you would rather a classy fish finger sandwich, toast two slices of bread. Spread with the tartare sauce, layer up a couple of the fingers with a slice or two of tomato and some lettuce. And there you have them: homemade fish fingers!

Image: Mr Michael Phams @ FLICKR

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