Friday, January 7, 2011

Breaded Baked Italian Style Fish Fillets

Ciao amici!

This week’s recipe is a little unusual in that it’s the first of a two part combination. Like a good movie, a well-made dish has both a star and high-quality supporting players. My offering today is the star of the dish – a breaded Italian style baked fish fillet – and next week we’ll continue with a delicious (and just a bit unusual) brown rice side dish that goes especially well with it.

I’ve made this twice: once with scrod and once with pollock. Both worked equally well, and I expect any other white fish would too. I’ve not prepared other types of fish this way, but I have every reason to believe it would be successful as well. (I also might give this a try with chicken breasts some time soon.)

You'll see that the recipe is simple, and the result is delicious. A couple of notes before we begin will fill out some of the recipe’s details:
  • Before coating the fish with the seasoned bread crumb mixture, I seasoned the fish itself with a bit of olive oil, and a mix of salt, pepper and garlic powder. I like this much better than having all the seasoning in the breading since it distributes the flavor throughout the entire bite, rather than relying only on the breading.
  • Instead of plain bread crumbs, I like to give the breading a more varied texture by using a mixture of plain crumbs and panko. (Panko, for anyone unfamiliar with it, is made from bread without crusts and has a texture that is crisper than plain bread crumbs. Originally used in Japanese cooking, panko is now in common use all over and can usually be found at the supermarket right next to the plain breadcrumbs.) For me, plain breadcrumbs, while very good, seem to say, “Good evening. I’m your breaded coating and I’m going to help make eating this fish a pleasurable experience for you.” Using panko adds a bold crispness that grabs you by your collar and says, “Yeah, I’m the breading. You got a problem with that?”
To make four servings:
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Dry the surface of four fish fillets using paper towels, then brush both sides of each fillet lightly with extra virgin olive oil. Make the fish seasoning by mixing 1 tablespoon of  kosher salt, ½ teaspoon of fresh ground pepper, and 1teaspoon of garlic powder, and apply it generously to both sides of each fish filet. (Any remaining seasoning mixture can be reserved to season whatever vegetables you’re serving with the fish.)
You’re now ready to bread the fish fillets. An easy way to do this without making a mess is to put the flour, seasoned bread crumb mixture and, if you like, even the egg substitute (or beaten eggs) into large sealable plastic food storage bags.
Place three pans (or the sealable bags) on the counter. In the first, put 1 cup of all purpose flour. In the second, put two egg substitute eggs (or two regular egg, well beaten). In the third, combine the following ingredients to make the seasoned bread crumb mixture: ½ cup panko bread crumbs, ½ cup plain bread crumbs, 2 tablespoons  of  dried basil, 2 tablespoons of dried oregano, 1 tablespoon of dried parsley, 1 teaspoon of dried thyme, 1 teaspoon of dried rosemary, and the zest of 1 lemon or orange.

Working one fillet at a time, put each fillet in the flour and coat well, then in the egg, then in the seasoned bread crumbs. Be sure both sides are well coated. As you finish breading each fillet, place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment.

Once all the fillets are coated, bake them until the fish is cooked and flaky, about 10-12 minutes, turning them over half way. To serve, drizzle each fillet with a little olive oil and garnish each plate with a lemon wedge to serve. (A glass of white wine won't hurt, either!)
So there you have part 1 of our delicious Italian-style dinner. Coming up next week in part 2: a special side dish I call “Brown Rice Rizzuto.”

As always, if you’d like a cookbook style, notebook ready copy of this week’s recipe, just let me know in a comment or an e-mail and I’ll send it along.

See you next week for part 2! Till then, stay well, keep it about the food, and always remember to baci il cuoco. ;-)


  1. LOL, "Got a problem with that"? This is the 1st blog i have read today and it brought a big smile to my face! Wonderfuly written, excellent , detailed description and instructions! I am trying your way with tilapia :)

  2. Thanks, Mark! I have to say I was happy with the way it came out, including how the breading - which, because of the panko, is almost like a crust - adheres to the fish.

    And thank you, Kim, for bringing a smile to my face...I'll keep on doing my best! This should be very good with tilapia, which is one of my favorite fishes. Let me know how you like it!

  3. Mwah, mwah - I should think that' what the last three words mean!

    I haven't heard of the types of fish you name but I could see this working with most white fish,especiall thesorts with big white flakes


  4. Angie, you do make me blush and that is no mean You have done well in your first Italian lesson. :-) And it sounds like the fish you plan to use will work with no problem. Let me know what you use and how it comes out!

  5. Now I know what Panko is. Saw it written somewhere once & had no idea.

  6. Glad I could help, Mary. :-) Panko is a great item, especially if you like to bake instead of frying. It adds a crunch that is hard to get otherwise.