Panko, or Japanese-style breading, goes a long way in low-fat recipes that re-create the crunch of fried, breaded fish. Here, lemon zest and parsley boost the panko punch. Instead of dipping the fish first in egg and flour, slathering mustard on each fillet provides enough sticking power to keep the fish coated and moist inside.
The fillets are baked and then run under the broiler for a final crisping.
To bring even more flavor to the dish, the finished fillets are served on a plate moistened with lemon juice. With the juice beneath the fish, their coating stays crisp.
If you can afford a few extra calories, drizzle a teaspoon of extra-virgin olive oil on the plates with the lemon juice. That little bit of "good" oil will boost the flavor even more.
Cod is the traditional fish choice here, but any firm, white-fleshed fish would work. Serve with steamed broccoli.
- 1 cup panko (japanese-style) bread crumbs
- Freshly grated zest of 1 medium lemon (about 1 1/2 teaspoons)
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 4 4- to 6-ounce skinless cod fillets, preferably at least 1 inch thick (may substitute any firm, white-fleshed fish fillets)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- 3 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard, or more to taste
- Nonstick cooking oil spray, for coating the crumb topping
- Juice of 2 large lemons (about 4 tablespoons), for garnish
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Use aluminum foil to line the bottom of a baking dish or rimmed baking sheet large enough to hold the fish fillets in a single layer.
Combine the panko, lemon zest and parsley in a shallow baking dish; mix well.
Use paper towels to pat the fillets dry. Place them skinned (darker) side down on the lined baking dish or sheet, then sprinkle lightly with salt.
Use the mustard to evenly coat the tops of the fillets.
Working with one fillet at a time, invert each one onto the panko mixture, pushing down gently so the crumbs adhere to the mustard coating. Return the fillet to the baking dish or sheet and repeat with the remaining fillets. Use nonstick cooking oil spray to lightly coat the fillets' crumb topping.
Bake for about 12 minutes, until the fish is cooked through (based on a guideline of 10 to 12 minutes' cooking per inch of thickness). Transfer to the stove top (off the heat) while you preheat the broiler.
Position the top oven rack 4 to 6 inches from the top broiling element; preheat the broiler.
Broil the fillets for 1 to 2 minutes, just to brown the crumb topping.
Meanwhile, spoon about 1 tablespoon of lemon juice across each individual plate, then lay a fillet on top of each portion. Serve immediately.
From Stephanie Witt Sedgwick.
Tested by Stephanie Witt Sedgwick.
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