I have a second oven-fried recipe for you, but don’t go thinking that I’m on some kind of healthy cooking kick here. That’s not it at all…A couple of years ago (whoa, has it already been that long?) I had this brilliant cookbook idea. I was going to call it “Golden Brown”, and it was going to be all about deep-frying, pan-frying, and oven-frying. Like a sort of follow up to my first cookbook Seared to Perfection. At least I thought it was a great idea—I mean, who can resist fried food? So I spent hours and hours putting together a book proposal, complete with a dozen tested recipes, and then my agent handed it over to the publisher…
And the publisher liked it. At first. Then, after what seemed like an eternity, I got the news, “Marketing doesn’t think they can sell it.” It always boils down to marketing. (The little matter of the economic meltdown didn’t do me any favors either.) Was I devastated? Hell, no! Well, maybe just a little bit. But, to be completely honest, I was relieved—I mean, do I really need to be testing and tasting an entire cookbook’s worth of fried food? I can just see it now: the French fries would’ve gone to my waist, the onion rings to my thighs, and the donuts directly to my heart. I would’ve battered, breaded, and rolled myself straight into my grave. In an XXL coffin, no less. The rejection hurt, but it was a blessing in disguise.
So that’s the reason for two oven-fried recipes in a row. They just needed a new home. By the way, when I was working as a private chef, my employer deemed these “the best fish sticks ever”. Which still cracks me up.
Oven-Fried Halibut with Tartar Sauce
¼ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup grated yellow onion
1 dill pickle, minced
2 tablespoons minced Italian parsley
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
Several drops Tabasco sauce
Freshly ground black pepper
1 large egg
¼ teaspoon granulated garlic
½ teaspoon paprika
2 cups panko breadcrumbs
1 ¾ pounds 1-inch thick center-cut halibut fillet, skinned, boned, and cut into 1-inch wide pieces
¼ cup all-purpose flour
3 to 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Blend together the mayonnaise, onion, pickle, parsley, lemon juice, and Tabasco in a small bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper and refrigerate.
Whisk together the egg, granulated garlic, paprika, and 2 tablespoons of water in a large, shallow dish. Mix together the panko and a generous pinch of salt and pepper in another large, shallow dish. Season the halibut pieces generously with salt and pepper. Dip each one into the flour to coat and shake off any excess, then into the egg wash, and then into the panko mixture to coat, patting so that it adheres. As you work, arrange the halibut pieces in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking tray. Using a pastry brush, brush them all over with the melted butter. Let rest in the refrigerator for about half an hour.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 450˚F. Bake the halibut for 16 to 18 minutes, or until just cooked through. The fillets will begin to flake when they are just cooked through. Arrange the halibut pieces on individual plates, divide the sauce among them, and serve immediately.
Serves 4. These “fish sticks” are a hit with adults and kids alike. For a complete fish 'n' chips dinner, serve them with Oven Fries and Classic Coleslaw.