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 V.14 No.30 | July 28 - August 3, 2005 

Eating In

Fish the Way God Intended

Give a man a fresh fish stick and he'll never go back to frozen

In the whole gustatory scheme of things, fish sticks rank pretty low on the food chain. Think about it. You're much more likely to see fish sticks on an all-u-can-eat buffet than a respectable menu—and even then, it's really only intended for children. But it's not because they're horrible or anything. I'd gladly eat one over, say, lutefisk. Or raw sea urchin, or the quivering pucks of gefilte fish my grandpa so enjoys at Passover. These things are horrifyingly bad, yet they're all considered delicacies by their respective cultures. So why has the humble American fish stick been banished to the coldest reaches of our grocer's freezer? I'll tell you why. Because they're made out of total crap. Most fish stick brands are so loaded down with fillers and preservatives that some brands—ones I've actually eaten—have close to half a foot of ingredients listed on the package. As a result, commercial sticks often suffer from a slightly stale, chemical taste that can hang around long after you've swallowed it. Fish stick breath. Yech!

Fresh fish sticks, on the other hand, are a whole other story. Where frozen sticks are greasy and spongy, the homemade versions are crisp and light. When store-bought is pulpy and dry on the inside, homemade is flaky and tender. And instead of tasting fishy, these simple sticks just taste like fish. The following recipes are incredibly quick and easy, not to mention incredibly good. Pair your fresh fish sticks with sliced, baked beets (available right now at your local farmers' market), a green salad and, of course, tartar sauce.

Golden Fish Sticks

The fresher the fish, the better. We like the taste and texture of tilapia when making fish sticks from scratch.
Makes two servings


nonstick vegetable oil spray

2 1/2 cups cornflakes

2 teaspoons grated lemon peel

2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter, melted

1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice

3/4 pound firm white fish fillets (such as tilapia, halibut or orange roughy), cut crosswise into 3/4-inch-wide strips

salt and pepper to taste


1) Position rack in top third of oven and preheat to 500° F. Spray small baking sheet with nonstick vegetable oil spray.

2) Grind cornflakes in processor until coarse crumbs form. Transfer to bowl; mix in lemon peel. Set aside.

3) Mix butter and 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice in small bowl. Season fish with salt and pepper. Brush with lemon butter, then dip into cornflake mixture, coating completely.

4) Arrange fish on baking sheet. Sprinkle with any remaining cornflake mixture. Bake fish until cooked through, about 10 minutes.

5) Transfer to a plate and serve with tartar sauce.

New Mexico Fish Sticks

The key to these crispy sticks is a primer coat of mayonnaise, so slather it on!
Makes two servings


nonstick vegetable oil spray

6 tablespoons all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons yellow cornmeal

1 3/4 teaspoons New Mexico red chile powder

1/3 cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

12 ounces firm white fish fillets, cut crosswise into 3/4-inch-wide strips

salt and pepper to taste


1) Position rack in top third of oven and preheat to 500°F. Spray small baking sheet with nonstick vegetable oil spray.

2) Whisk all-purpose flour, yellow cornmeal and chile powder in a shallow dish to blend.

3) Stir mayonnaise and fresh lemon juice in another shallow dish to blend.

4) Sprinkle fish fillets on all sides with salt and pepper. Dip fish fillets into mayonnaise mixture, then into flour mixture to coat completely.

5) Arrange fish on prepared sheet. Bake until coating is crisp and golden and fish is cooked through, about 10 minutes.

6) Transfer to a plate and serve with tartar sauce.

Today's Events

Beerland at The Lodge at Santa Fe


Celebrate the premiere of the new VICE docu-series exploring the world of home-brewing at the tour’s first stop. Enjoy happy hour, live music, lawn games, seminars, a special screening of Beerland and more.

Angels Night Out at The Cowgirl BBQ


Downtown Grower's Market at Robinson Park

More Recommended Events ››

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