Browned panko breadcrumbs make baked cod as crispy as fried, with less fat and fewer calories. CONTRIBUTED BY KELLIE HYNES
Photo: Kellie Hynes
Photo: Kellie Hynes

Healthy Cooking: Enjoy the spirit of a fish fry, but with less fat

This Jewish girl enjoys nothing more than a Catholic fish fry, where people of all faiths unite in their love of friends, food, and someone else cooking dinner. I’m heartbroken that we can’t stand together now, when we need to lean on each other the most. So, with respect for Lenten customs, and gratitude to the Catholic friends who taught them to me, I offer this yummy, crispy, sheet pan fish ‘n chips recipe.

Start with the chips (aka french fries). Super-starchy russet potatoes are the best spuds for this job. Wash and dry the whole potatoes, and leave the potassium-rich skins on for maximum flavor and nutrition. Slice the potatoes into 1/4-inch-thick pieces, you know, like french fries. If you aren’t pressed for time, blot dry the fries with paper towels so that the oil and seasonings stick evenly. I place the fries on a pile of paper towels as I cut, then roll the paper towels up for maximum drying with minimal effort.

While some recipes suggest baking the fries in an abundance of oil, you can cut the fat content considerably by using just 2 teaspoons of heart-healthy olive oil. The secret is to rub the oil on the fries with your hands, ensuring all of the fries are evenly coated. Like your fries extra crispy? Place a foil-covered baking sheet in the oven during the preheat, then carefully arrange and bake the seasoned potatoes on the already-hot pan.

Next, choose your favorite sturdy white fish fillets, either fresh or previously frozen. Halibut is delicious but can be pricey. Cod is an economical, not-fishy-tasting fish that delivers an impressive amount of protein. Slice the fillets horizontally into nuggets. Go ahead and dab the fish dry too. Set up a dredging station. Start with a light coating of all-purpose flour, then dunk the fish in beaten egg. Here I suggest using just one whole egg and two whites; switch to two whole eggs if cholesterol isn’t an issue. You can add bonus flavor to your fish by whipping the egg with lemon juice, malt vinegar or even a dollop of Dijon mustard. A layer of panko breadcrumbs gives our fish its crispy exterior without frying. For the ultimate golden goodness, brown the panko in a dry skillet (without oil or cooking spray) before coating the fish. Add the fish to the oven, and in a few minutes, you’ll have a healthy version of the season’s best comfort food. Serve with malt vinegar and happy memories, until we can dine together again.

Sheet Pan Fish and Chips

Sheet Pan Fish and Chips
  • 2 large russet potatoes, skin on, washed and dried, cut into 1/4-inch-thick sticks
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, divided
  • 1 large egg plus 2 egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, malt vinegar or Dijon mustard
  • 1 3/4 cups plain panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 1/2 - 1 3/4 pounds cod fish fillets, cut into 1-inch-wide nuggets
  • Arrange the oven racks in the top and bottom third of the oven.
  • Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with aluminum foil. Place 1 on the lower oven rack and heat the oven to 450 degrees.
  • Toss the cut potatoes with olive oil, 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Arrange the potatoes in a single layer on the hot baking sheet. Return the pan to the lower oven rack and cook for 15 minutes. Stir the potatoes and cook 10-15 minutes more, until the potatoes are tender and golden. Set aside.
  • Set up a dredging station. Seal the flour and remaining salt and pepper in a gallon-sized zip-close bag and shake well. Whisk the eggs with the lemon juice, vinegar or mustard together in a bowl. Brown the panko breadcrumbs in a dry skillet over medium heat until they darken, stirring constantly, approximately 2 1/2 minutes. Pour the breadcrumbs into a second bowl.
  • Place the fish nuggets in the flour mixture and shake gently until the fish is completely coated. Dip each piece of fish into the egg mixture, and then into the panko. Place the nuggets on the second prepared baking sheet and repeat.
  • Bake the fish on the upper oven rack. Cook for 10-13 minutes until the fish reaches an internal temperature of 145 degrees. Serve hot with the potatoes, with a lemon wedge and malt vinegar on the side. Serves 4.

Nutritional information

Per serving: 370 calories (percent of calories from fat, 14), 40 grams protein, 38 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 6 grams fat (1 gram saturated), 126 milligrams cholesterol, 347 milligrams sodium.

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