Panko Crusted Fish with Homemade Tartar Sauce

So many people love to eat fish, but they rarely made it at home. I used to be one of those people. Fish is a nice change from chicken, and it really is simple to prepare. If you are like me, and don't usually purchase and cook fish at home, than pay attention because I am going to share a few tips to help you expand your menu options at home to include fish!

First, make sure you purchase fish the day, or the day before, you will be cooking it. Fish usually comes into the market frozen, so it doesn't freeze well as second time.

Second, when you purchase your fish, ask lots of questions! Ask the fishmonger what is fresh, and what they recommend. A big complaint that home cooks make when cooking fish at home is that it is fishy smelling and makes their home smell. This should not be the case. Fish should not smell fishy at all, and if it does, don't buy it or eat it! I ask the fishmonger at the store if the fish I am purchasing smells, and usually when I ask that, they let me smell it. This helps me know I am getting very fresh fish. It should not have any fishy smell whatsoever. Period.

Third, start simple! Get a firm white fleshed fish like tilapia, haddock or cod. These fishes are pretty hard to mess up. Buy fillets, so you don't have to deal with the skin or bones and such. My favorite thing about eating most coated or fried seafood is the tartar sauce. I love good tartar sauce. I have yet to find one I like in the grocery store, so I prefer to make my own. It is easy and tastes great!
Homemade Tartar Sauce
1/2 cup good mayo
1/4 cup finely diced dill pickle
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp dried parsley
pinch of salt

Combine all ingredients and taste. Add more pickle or lemon juice if you want it more tangy. Refrigerate for 30 minutes, or while you prepare your fish.
Panko Crusted Fish

Ingredients: 1 lb firm white fleshed fish (haddock, cod, tilapia, swai, etc)
1/2 cup milk mixed with 1-2 tsp hot sauce
1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs mixed with the following:
1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp garlic powder
zest of one lemon
1 tsp salt
freshly ground pepper
canola oil

Heat a large cast iron pan, or nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add enough canola oil to cover the bottom of the pan.
Rinse the fish fillets under cold water and then pat dry.
Place milk and hot sauce in a shallow bowl. Place the panko crumbs in other shallow bowl with the seasonings. Line up next to the pan, like an assembly line.
Dip each fish fillet first in the milk to coat, and then in the panko crumb mixture. Use a fork or your hands to press the crumb mixture onto both sides of the fish.
Place coated fish in the pan with the hot oil and cook for about 4 minutes on each side, or until lightly browned and fish is no longer pink the center.
Place on paper towels or a brown paper bag to blot any excess oil. Serve immediately with homemade tartar sauce and a lemon wedge. This fish was extra crispy from the panko bread crumbs, and cooked perfectly. It was tender and delicious, and even great the next day in a sandwich! If you haven't cooked with fish and you are looking for a great recipe to start with, this is the one. Give it a try and let me know how it comes out.


  1. This looks fantastic. We just started using the MB Italian panko and like it a lot...I'll have to try it on fish.
    We make our own tartar, too. My men like it with bread and butter pickles instead of dill.
    Thanks for another great weeknight recipe!

  2. Hi Andrea, I finally tried this recipe and I'm wondering what I did wrong. Maybe too much oil, or maybe the fish wasn't fresh enough? The breading didn't stay on. Any tips would be appreciated. The fish broke apart quite a bit too. It was still delicious though!

  3. embee, here are some tips that might help, but some of my breading fell off too, so no worries.
    First, make sure your fish is patted very dry before you coat.
    Next, you can add an egg into the milk mixture if you want to give the panko something more substantial to cling too.
    Also, if your panko crumbs are really large in size, you might want to crumble half of them into smaller pieces.
    The firmer the fish, the less likely to fall apart - try tilapia, that's my favorite.
    Also, make sure your oil is hot enough when you place the fish in the pan. Use a non-stick pan if possible, and use a flat spatula to turn. Sometimes I use my hand or another spatula to keep the top in place when flipping it over.
    hope that helps! breaded fish can be difficult for all the reasons you mentioned, but don't give up!

  4. Thanks Andrea!! I think I will add an egg and dry it better... I'll let you know how it goes next time. I also was thinking I should get it from a local fish market instead of the grocery store... it will be fresher.


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