Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Fish sticks with roasted potato wedges and minted green beans

Fish sticks, y'all. Minus the fins and eyeballs and guts and other unrecognizable ingredients you get in the ones from a box. This is food for a 3 year old,  fit for adults. They're incredibly quick and easy to make, not to mention tasty as all get-out.

I've mentioned before that I have a pathological fear of deep-frying. I just can't get over the thought that the oil will bubble over and burn my house down, or the whole (400 pound Le Creuset) pot will just spontaneously jump off the stove and murder us all... It's sad. But it is my reality, so I find ways to work around it, such as these potato wedges. All the tastiness of fries, none of the crippling fear. And they're healthier to boot. Huzzah!

This is probably my favorite green bean recipe. It's just blanched beans, a little shallot, a little Dijon vinaigrette, and a little mint. Absolutely delicious. And perfect for barbecues, I always feel kind of desperate for something fresh and green at barbecues when faced with the typical fare.

 Make these!

2 tilapia fillets, cut into fish stick-sized... sticks
sprinkling of garlic powder
sprinkling of cayenne pepper
~ 1/2 cup milk, whatever kind you keep around ~ 1/2 cup bread crumbs, I like panko, which you can find just about anywhere these days

~ 1 lb small potatoes, cut into wedges
drizzle of vegetable oil
seasoning of your choice, we like Tony's

couple handfuls of lovely summer fresh green beans
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, the good stuff
1 heaping tbsp of shallot, minced
small handful of fresh mint, sliced finely

Start with the potatoes. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees while you slice your wedges. Drizzle with a little bit of vegetable oil (seriously, just a drizzle - too much and they don't crisp up properly. Isn't that strange?), a sprinkle of your seasoning of choice (if any) and arrange on a baking sheet. Pop into the oven for 20 minutes while you get everything else together, then flip the wedges and bake another 20 minutes.

Now the fish. Season your sticks on all sides with kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, a little garlic powder, and a little cayenne. Pour the milk into a small bowl and the bread crumbs into a shallow dish. Dunk the sticks one by one into the milk, then into the bread crumbs, turning and pressing to coat the fish on all sides. Place them onto a plate and let sit in the fridge while you get everything else together. Something about letting them sit in the fridge for even just a few minutes really helps the bread crumbs adhere.

Set a small pot of water to boil. Once it's boiling, season it liberally with kosher salt and add your green beans. Set a timer for one minute. Fill a bowl with cold water and ice. When your timer goes off, remove the beans from the boiling water and plunge into the ice bath. I use a handy little metal skimmer for this, but if you don't have a handy little metal skimmer you can just drain them into a colander and then transfer them to the ice bath. Once they're cool, lay them out on a paper towel to dry.

In a small bowl, whisk together the Dijon mustard, white wine vinegar, and olive oil. Stir in the shallot, mint, and now-dry green beans. Mmm.

By now you've probably flipped your potato wedges and they're nearing ready, so heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a non-stick skillet. When you think it's hot, add a fish stick. If the oil bubbles up around it right away, it's hot enough, so add a few more. Don't overcrowd the pan or the temperature will decrease too much and they'll get soggy, not crispy. Soggy fish sticks make baby Jesus cry. Fry them on all sides until golden brown and delicious, then remove to a plate lined with a couple of paper towels. Continue until they're all fried, obviously.

I like to serve this family style, with the fish sticks and potato wedges on a big platter and a nice pile of minted green beans on each plate. Serve with ranch, ketchup, barbecue or tartar sauce, whatever you like!

Serves 2, takes about 45 minutes.

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