This is a wonderfully crispy, nutty crust, juxtaposed against the creaminess of the fish fillet. The flavors play off of each other, bring cohesion to the dish, but still offer up a delightful textural quality. According to The Spicy Honey, it’s a keeper recipe. We enjoy fish. Pretty much seafood of any kind. Be adventurous when purchasing fish/seafood. There are some wonderful varieties of fish that sort of fly under the radar. I suspect part of the reason, is that some varieties just aren’t fished as much as others and perhaps, aren’t as lucrative for the fisherman. At any rate, if you encounter hog fish, parrot fish, tile fish, red grouper, redfish, sablefish (black cod) or porgy, grab them. In my experience, they tend to be a bit less expensive and some are smaller fish, more single-serving types. But, the flavors and texture are lovely. I know there are a ton more options, but these are the ones I’ve encountered. Many years ago, turbot was cheap, cheap, cheap. Not any more…too many people realized just how delicious it is…that’s the down-side of some of the “new” finds…others find them, too. But, for this recipe, any whitefish should work well. For the coating, simply combine the plantain, pecan and panko crumbs, along with coarsely shredded parmesan. I’ve tried this with freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano, and frankly, the lovely nuances of that very special cheese (along with the price tag), are just wasted here. The more coarsely shredded parm in the bags, sold in supermarket dairy sections, just works better. It enhances that nice nutty flavor without getting too sticky. Stupidly, I was just sailing along, making dinner, when I realized I hadn’t taken any pictures of the seasoning process. But, being an intelligent person, you don’t really need pictures. When possible, and this will only works with small, whole fish, it’s nice to leave the tail on, because it gives you “handle” to work with. But, if there’s no tail, this is not an insurmountable problem. So, whole fish, open each fish, like a book, and season the inside. “Close the book” on that step, and then smear the exterior with a thin layer of mayonnaise. If using a filet, season one side only, as we don’t want to over-power the delicate flavor of the fish. A thin layer of mayonnaise, on both sides each fillet helps the coating adhere, keeps the fish moist and is a definite flavor enhancer. This is a good make-ahead main course, as I think it’s important for the coated fillets to rest. It allows the coating to “set”. So, you can do this in the morning, cover them well with plastic wrap and refrigerate them until you and your crowd are ready to eat. Speaking of crowd, I’m working on an oven-cooked version…I’ll keep you posted. I like to fry the fish in an oil/butter combination. The oil let’s you fry a bit hotter and the butter is, well…butter…YUM! If you have these chillin’ in the fridge, this is a quick, mid-week, restaurant-quality meal. It’s really that simple. Once you’ve coated the fish, this takes about 8-10 minutes from the frying pan to the table. I served them with corn-on-the-cob and Quick Roasted Sugar Snap Peas with Garlic and Ginger. I did make a little mignonette on the side, just a combination of finely diced cucumber, scallions, sweet peppers, tomatoes and herbs, with a squeeze of lemon juice. I honestly don’t think it really did much for the fish, as it was so good already, but the squeeze of lemon is always nice with fish.
If you run across a larger fish you wish to try, this will still work well. You may have to adjust the cooking time and/or switch the cooking method to the oven, but you can do that. Though I must admit, there is something rather nice about having your own personal, little fish.
Fish Fillets with a Plantain Chip, Pecan, Panko and Parmesan Crust
- 4 boneless fish fillets, tails-on, if possible (hog fish, snapper, sole, etc)
- Old Bay® Seasoning or Cajun Seasoning
- Mayonnaise, to coat the fillets
- 3/4 cup finely crushed plantain chips
- 1/2 cup finely chopped toasted pecans
- 1/3 cup panko crumbs (use gluten-free, if needed)
- 1/4 cup coarsely shredded Parmesan cheese (I use bagged, shredded cheese)
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons butter
Season the fillets on one side with the Old Bay or Cajun Seasoning (or whatever seasoning you prefer—I like a combo of the two); set aside. On a plate or bowl, combine the crushed plantain chips, pecans, panko, Parmesan and black pepper until thoroughly mixed. Spread a thin layer of mayonnaise (lower-fat works just fine) on both sides of each filet. Press the fillets into the crumb mixture, turning and pressing the second side until the fillets are well-coated. Pick the fillets up by the tail; shake very gently. Place the “breaded” fillets on a plate, cover with plastic wrap and chill for a couple of hours. This allows the coating the adhere well.
Heat the oil, in a heavy skillet, over medium-high heat; add the butter and when melted (I usually let the butter brown just a bit), lay the fillets into the pan. Do not crowd and do not move them for at least 2 minutes. You want the coating to get nice and crispy. Use a spatula to turn the fillets; I cooked them for 4 minutes on the first side and about 3 minutes on the second side. Carefully remove the fillets and serve immediately. I served this with a veggie-herb salsa, but the fillets are positively delicious as is. They really don’t need any embellishment. I usually salt the fillets after I plate them.
NOTE: If you want to add a bit of heat, add a dusting of cayenne to the filets. It’s important that the coated fillets “rest” in order to allow the coating to really adhere to the fish. You may do the coating early in the day, cover and chill and then pan-fry just before serving.
Fish Fillets with a Plantain Chip, Pecan, Panko and Parmesan Crust Recipe©Marcia Lahens 2018. All rights reserved.
You may have noticed that I’ve used “filet” and “fillet” in this post. They refer to the process of removing fish or meat from its bones. So either version is correct, generally speaking. I’m putting my grammar soapbox away, now. Have a good dinner!