September 16th, 2010
My kids love fish, but I find it hard to keep up. Once I buy some fresh, I feel the pressure to cook it immediately. I don’t want to freeze it. And depending on where you get your fish, it’s quite possible it’s already been frozen. I definitely don’t want TWICE frozen fish. So, I buy fish when I know I can cook it right away and also keep frozen shrimp on hand. But I want another go-to, and I want it to be proper fish (not shellfish). The obvious choice is breaded fillets but, eww, that brings fish sticks to mind.
I’ve never been one for fish sticks. The kind you get out of the freezer case are just weird and mushy. Early experiences with that—along with a (sometimes unreasonable) aversion to “kids food”—has kept me from making anything that resembles fish sticks. Even though I know the homemade kind can be flaky and crispy and delicious.
Well, these Coconut Lime Crusted Fish fillets have changed all of that. Not only are they quick and tasty, but they also freeze beautifully. My kids love them and, though the Hungry Papa and I generally enjoy traditional fish seasoning like Old Bay and lemon zest, the tropical twist on this recipe makes us feel like we’re eating something more sophisticated. Especially when you take a few extra minutes to make this mango salsa recipe. It’s the perfect accompaniment and gives dinner a boost of nutrition.
Coconut Lime Crusted Fish
(can be shared with kids 10+ mos)*
1 c panko bread crumbs
1 c unsweetened shredded coconut
2 Tbsp lime zest
1 1/2 Tbsp chopped cilantro
4 Tbsp butter, melted
2 egg whites
salt and pepper
4 tilapia fillets (you can substitute cod or your favorite flaky white fish)
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In the meantime, toss bread crumbs, coconut, zest and cilantro with melted butter. Work the mixture with your hands making sure that the crumbs evenly soak up the butter.
2. Whisk egg whites.
3. Season fish with salt and pepper. Dip in egg white, allowing excess to drip off the filets, then dredge in breadcrumb mixture. Place breaded fillets on a rack on a baking sheet (so that they crisp evenly). Bake for about 20 minutes, until they are crisp and golden and the fish is cooked through. Serve plain or, even better, with mango salsa.
*Note: The recommendation used to be to hold off on citrus until 12 months, though citrus zest has always been considered safe earlier. So, even if you’re taking a conservative approach to baby food introductions, this dish is safe for any child already eating fish. If you’re following the most recent baby food introduction guidelines, that may be earlier than conservatively recommended 10 months.