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Here’s a quick, easy and tasty recipe for those of you out who like fried fish fillet. As a child, I remember feasting on crispy fish fillets during our summer outings to various tourist locations in the Philippines. My grandfather played host to these trips for the international students (mostly Koreans) in the school he used to head and I, of course, would not miss any of it. And some of these students have children my age. It was so funny in the beginning because us kids could not understand each other — they were still learning English and so we were all just nodding, smiling, laughing, playing and eating! The language barrier did not keep us from enjoying each others company.

So where was I.. yes the fish! One of my favorite packed lunch order at the Korean restaurant that catered for us was the spicy fish fillet with steamed rice. I have distinct memories of tastes of food from childhood and this is one of them. I have been so desperate for decades to find this taste or replicate it until I stumbled upon the basa fish and this simple concoction. It sounds ridiculous that I have been craving this for more than 10 years! I’m so relieved to “find” it once again and be able to satiate this craving. I cooked and ate this two days in a row! It was that bad.

I have to tell you something else: it tastes so close to McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets! I promise I was not hallucinating. So FYI, this could be a good alternative McNuggets fix.

Here’s another accidental discovery that accompanied this dish: I ran out of flour and resorted to using cornstarch for dredging. It gave a really nice, crackly-crispiness that I have been looking for a very long time. Perfect!

As for the fish, you might be wondering how in the world I decided to pick basa fish. I didn’t know this fish until it called out to me at the Chinese supermarket. This was sold frozen and although I don’t usually buy frozen fish, I was curious to try it. The meat is white (compared to the orange-coral-red-ish color of salmon) with thick flakes, compared to the finer tilapia meat. It keeps its shape during pan frying and is not as delicate as some fish fillets. I makes perfect sense for making fish sticks. It won’t fall off your fingers or fork as other fish varieties would.

You can also try the following recipe with the fish of your preference. Don’t forget to let me know if it worked out for you!

Crispy Basa Fish Fillet Sticks

Ingredients

  • 10- to 12-ounces basa fillets, cut to your desired “stick” size
  • 4 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper powder
  • olive oil, for frying
  • For the dredge: 3/4 cup cornstarch, 1 tsp pepper

Preparation

1.    Marinate fish in lemon juice, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper powder for 15 minutes.

2.    One by one, take fish sticks from the marinade and dredge in cornstarch and pepper mixture. Tap the excess cornstarch off the fish.

3.    Fry in medium to high heat with enough oil to cover the surface of the frying pan. Cook for 3-5 minutes each side depending on thickness, until golden brown. If the fish slice is thick, cook on all 4 sides.

4.    Serve on its own or with ketchup and/or rice.

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14 Comments

  • July 1, 2009 6:28 am

    Please check out my BASA RECIPE on YOUTUBE. I must try it fried next time using your recipe. Thanks

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=58pTRzZD2g4

  • Mary
    February 26, 2011 8:20 pm

    This was delicious! My 16 mo. old grandaughter even liked this recipe. I would never have thought to use corn starch but now, I don’t think I’ll try anything else.

    • joy
      February 26, 2011 11:03 pm

      I’m so glad to hear that, Mary! Yes, starch is great for frying. I use a combination of starch and flour for fried chicken coating, too.

  • SusanR
    April 9, 2011 6:00 pm

    Just made this for my 85 year old parents. I had to finally scold my dad to stop eating it, I was afraid he would make himself sick. It really was delicous, thanks.

  • Donna
    July 26, 2011 2:29 pm

    Delish!! every member of my family loved it. i served it with poppy seed dressing as a dip.

    • joy
      August 10, 2011 3:07 pm

      Poppy seed dressing — sounds yum!

  • Christa Duffy
    November 28, 2011 1:29 pm

    This is a totally gluten free recipe! Thank you!

  • December 30, 2011 10:54 pm

    WOW, great recipe. Saved me from what my dad would have done instead.

  • Anita
    February 20, 2013 7:42 pm

    I really enjoyed the basa fish. So did my husband.I changed the recipe slightly for my husbands taste. He doesn’t eat real spicy foods so I put smoked paprika for the cayenne pepper and instead of pepper in the coating I put granulated garlic. We both like it very much. I made fish tacos with it. Thanks!

  • Dora
    March 9, 2013 8:39 am

    This recipe was outstanding! My husband and I could not get enough of it. The crispiness and taste of it all was amazing. Best pan fried fish I have ever made. Would never have considered using cornstarch instead of flour. Restaurant quality. A little messy to put together but totally worth it. Thank you so much!!

  • Alex
    September 6, 2013 6:23 pm

    If you want to try a variation on this, try the panko crusted fish.

    1. Coat your protein with cornstarch, shake off excess.
    2. Dip the cornstarch covered meat/fish in an eggwash(scrambled egg).
    3. Roll it in panko crumbs.
    4. Fry. I usually deep fry in a wok, but it should work as a panfry.

    Women will offer themselves to you, men will follow you into hell, all for a taste of this treat.

    • joy
      October 1, 2013 10:55 pm

      We do have it with panko every now and then. Love the extra crunch.

  • Birat
    December 24, 2013 7:44 pm

    Thankyou a lot for the recipe it was fantastic.

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