Crunchy Pan-fried Cod Fillets

While my British mother-in-law would have insisted the only way to serve cod is battered and deep fried, I beg to differ. With the right coating, you can skip the deep fryer and still make delicious, crispy fish that is easier, healthier and quicker to prepare. The secret ingredient in this crispy crust is Corn Flake crumbs, readily available in most grocery stores. (As an added bonus, because most cereals are fortified with vitamins, these crumbs are super nutritious!) The cod fillets cook especially quickly when you cut them into smaller pieces, which also makes them easier to flip in the pan. If you have time, I highly recommend making my simplified version of the classic French Gribiche sauce (below), a mayonnaise-style concoction that is a nice alternative to tartar sauce. If not, a generous squeeze of fresh lemon juice is pretty tasty as well!

Fresh cod's mild flavour is perfectly complemented by a crispy, seasoned crust made from Corn Flake crumbs. The optional Sauce Gribiche is delicious, but can easily be omitted in favour of a generous squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

Fresh cod’s mild flavour is perfectly complemented by a crispy, seasoned crust made from Corn Flake crumbs. The optional Sauce Gribiche is really delicious, but can easily be omitted in favour of a generous squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

Ingredients

  • 2 fillets fresh cod
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 to 1 ½ cups (250 mL to 375 mL) Corn Flake crumbs (or panko, though I’d increase the seasonings if you don’t use Corn Flake crumbs)
  • ¼ to ½ teaspoon (1.25 to 2.5 mL) cayenne (to taste)
  • ½ teaspoon (2.5 mL) paprika
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon (1.25 mL) thyme
  • ½ teaspoon (2.5 mL) freshly ground pepper
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons (45 to 60 mL) canola oil

Method

  • Cut each cod fillet into three portions (two longer ones from the thicker part then one portion from the thinner section).
  • Crack the eggs into a broad, shallow dish and beat thoroughly.
  • Combine the Corn Flake crumbs and seasonings in another small bowl.
  • Preheat a large, heavy duty skillet over medium-high heat (cast iron is ideal).
  • When ready to start cooking, add just enough oil to thoroughly coat the bottom of the skillet.
  • Starting with the thickest pieces of fish, working one piece at a time, dip the fish in the egg, then Corn Flake crumbs; back in the egg and then back in the crumbs. You’ll want to keep a damp cloth handy as your hands will get messy.
  • Put the twice-coated fillets in the hot pan and quickly repeat with remaining fillets.
  • Cook for 5 minutes; carefully flip and cook for 5 minutes more.
  • Serve immediately.

Serves 2 – 3.

Sauce Gribiche

Ingredients

  • 1 large egg, hardboiled, peeled and chilled
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) Dijon mustard
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) freshly squeezed lemon juice, or to taste
  • ½ cup (125 mL) olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) chopped dill
  • 2 teaspoons (10 mL) chopped chives
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) capers, chopped
  • 1 medium shallot, finely chopped

Method

  • Put the peeled egg in a saucer; add the mustard and about 1/4 teaspoon (1.25 mL) salt.
  • With the back of a fork, mash the egg well. Transfer the egg to a high sided medium-sized bowl or two cup (500 mL) glass measure.
  • Add the vinegar and lemon juice and stir quickly to blend.
  • Slowly drizzle in the oil, whisking vigorously (or use an immersion blender).
  • The mixture should emulsify and become thick and shiny. If not, keep whisking or blending. You can also add a teaspoon or two of cold water and that will help it bind.
  • Stir in the herbs, capers and shallots. Taste and add a bit more salt if needed.

Makes about ¾ cup (200 mL) of sauce. It’s also excellent on chicken or as a salad dressing.

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About Paula Roy

Welcome to my kitchen! I play with words and with food. I love simple dishes prepared with passion and am always seeking to find new methods to make food as fun and flavourful as possible. I'm also an enthusiastic explorer of faraway lands and cuisines.
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5 Responses to Crunchy Pan-fried Cod Fillets

  1. Lisa Shaw says:

    I am intrigued by that sauce, which sounds just like a cooked-egg mayonnaise. I did some research on that recipe, and most people who’ve made it say it breaks easily and can be grainy. What is your experience with it? Does it maintain its texture in the fridge or does it break?

    • Paula Roy says:

      Hi Lisa, I tested the sauce 5 times on days that ranged from cool and dry to hot and humid. Each time I had success with the sauce although on the hotter day I had to add about a teaspoon and a half of very cold water to correct the sauce after it began to break. I should also note that the sauce regains its nice texture very quickly after refrigeration with an immersion blender. I hope you have success!

      • Lisa Shaw says:

        Did you make it every time by hand, or have you also used a food processor? I make mayo in the food processor and love the results; would like to try this, too. 🙂

      • Paula Roy says:

        I made it by hand each time (4 x with immersion blender, 1 x with whisk). My food processor is enormous so I wasn’t sure it would properly process what amounts to a relatively small batch. I am sure it would work well, however, in a processor!

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