RECIPE: Crisp, tropical coconut fish easier when baked

Coconut Fish. (Chris Hunt for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: CHRIS HUNT

Combined ShapeCaption
Coconut Fish. (Chris Hunt for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: CHRIS HUNT

For a dinnertime twist on the delightfully retro appetizer coconut shrimp, try swapping in large pieces of flaky white fish, such as cod. The result has all of the tropical fun of the original, but in an easy-to-serve family-style dish. Even better, by ditching the deep fryer for the oven, the dish comes together with almost zero cleanup.

To make a coating that isn’t too sweet, I like to combine unsweetened shredded coconut with panko breadcrumbs. The breadcrumbs ensure the exterior of the fish turns crisp in the oven while also keeping the coconut flavor from becoming overwhelming. A couple of beaten eggs are an easy one-ingredient “glue” for the coating — there’s no need to add flour or anything else to the mix.

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While coconut-coated seafood is typically fried, this fish does just as well baked in a hot oven. The only trick is to give the breading a generous spritz of nonstick oil spray before baking; this will help to promote even browning and crisping. And once the fish is cooked through — look for flakes when you poke the fish with a fork — add a pop of color and herbaceous flavor with a sprinkle of chopped fresh cilantro over the top.

Coconut Fish
  • 1 cup unsweetened finely shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 pound cod or other flaky white fish, cut into 2-inch-thick strips
  • Salt
  • Nonstick oil spray
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • On the side: Steamed white rice and green beans
  • Heat the oven to 425 degrees with a rack in the middle position. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
  • In a shallow bowl, stir together the coconut and panko. In a second shallow bowl, beat the eggs.
  • Season the fish with salt. Working a few pieces at a time, dip the fish into the eggs and turn to coat. Transfer to the coconut mixture, shaking off excess egg. Turn to coat on all sides with the coconut mixture and transfer to the prepared sheet pan. Repeat with the remaining fish.
  • Spray the fish generously with the nonstick oil spray.
  • Transfer to the oven and bake until the coating is lightly golden and the fish just begins to flake when poked with a fork, 10 to 12 minutes. Garnish with the cilantro and serve immediately with the rice and green beans. Serves 4.

Nutritional information

Per serving: Per serving: 407 calories (percent of calories from fat, 55), 27 grams protein, 19 grams carbohydrates, 6 grams fiber, 25 grams total fat (19 grams saturated), 142 milligrams cholesterol, 786 milligrams sodium.
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