Monday, April 2, 2012

Healthy Oven Fried Fish Rocks Low Carb - Just In Time For Good Friday

The Fluffy Chix Oven Fried Fish recipe morphs two ideas into one easy dish! We were children of the 60s. And of Luby’s Cafeteria. In Houston during the 60s, cafeterias ruled. We had Piccadilly, Wyatt’s, Cleburn’s and Luby’s among others. But nothing could beat the LuAnn Platter at Luby’s.

I could talk for hours about how the flaky fish seemingly dissolved on the tongue or how I greedily rationed each heavenly, crispy crumb of breading. I would eat the mac 'n cheese delicately, one elbow at a time. Ahhhh the innocence of youth!

I didn't know! Sure I was a roly poly kid, but Mom always told me I was big-boned. *wink wink* No really, she blamed it on the steroids I took most of the first 11 years of my life.

Little did I know I should have blamed my weight problem on that little bitch LuAnn at Luby's instead of cortisone.

Ahhhh! Now you're talking. That's a LuAnn Platter fit for me!

My favorite LuAnn Platter? 1/2 of a Fried Haddock Filet and 2 Sides, of course - usually mac 'n cheese and fried okra. Healthy! And I usually had either a yeast roll or one of their heavenly pieces of corn bread along with a marinated cucumber and tomato salad.

Yeah - I was a big eater even in those days. I have no idea where I put it. And sometimes I wonder why Mom didn't limit me. I probably would have blamed her for that too, though. It's so difficult to know how to parent - when to step in and place limits and when to hold back.

I loved Luby’s Fried Haddock so much I couldn’t wait for Fridays to roll around so that I could perhaps be treated to one of the delicious golden rectangles. Crispy, crunchy, thick white fleshed fish and not a speck of fishiness anywhere to be found. The dense fish made Catholic Meat-free Fridays simple. Combine that with Luby's Mac n’ Cheese and oh, my…sigh!

Mom was the eternal Frugal Gourmet and
Dad was the fisherman!
Mom being ever frugal figured out a way to give us Luby’s Fried Haddock without going to Luby’s – a cheap solution for sure and with 5 kids and 3 adults she needed cheap!

She’d seen a recipe in a magazine where you coated fish filets in mayonnaise and then shook them in a bag of bread crumbs. She loved trying new recipes that she'd cut out of McCall's or Ladies Home Journal or Good Housekeeping. And since we always had fish in the freezer from our weekend fishing trips, we were prime for the fixin'. Well her first oven fried fish went over with tears of gratitude, balloons and confetti. The crowd roared (hey we had 8 people in a three room ranch – it felt like a crowd).

Oven Fried Asparagus are the bomb! And easy to make.
The other recipe inspiration for the Fluffy Chix Oven Fried Fish came from my catering days. I had a client who requested parmesan crusted asparagus. It was a personal recipe of his and he graciously gave it to me. And it took 4-evvvvvv-errrrrrr to make and had to be done at the last minute!

OMG. Insert rolly eyes, then imagine making something that had to be drenched in beaten egg white and rolled in freshly grated parmesan and deep fried til crisp…for 40 people at the last minute! Oy veh! Delicious but crazy-making.


Ever since the breast cancer, I have been committed to avoiding soy (because my cancer is estrogen driven and soy is a plant estrogen), and to reducing fat (I’m not sure why, but it makes my doctor happy). Most store bought mayo is filled with soybean oil and soy lecithin and sometimes I’m too durned lazy for my own good and don't feel like making fresh mayonnaise. I asked myself, what if…

Oven Fried Catfish with Skinny Tartar Sauce and Kale Salad.
What if I made Mom’s Oven Fried Fish with the asparagus technique and used the beaten egg white to make the LC coating adhere to the fish?

See, I’d reinvented the asparagus many years ago when I found I could dredge them in beaten egg white and roll them in parmesan. Spray with some olive oil spray and bake those suckers at 425° until golden and brown and you get parmesan asparagus without suffering a loss of quality or having a massive head ache from the angst of making them. They were sooo much quicker to make and no greasy frying smell either! Win win!

Oven Fried Catfish tastes like it took forever to make but doesn't!
And that’s just what I did. I bought cheap catfish filets – no I don’t recommend farmed fish – but I was broke this week and I wanted fish and the catfish was cheapest. Coating the filets in beaten egg white and dredging them in a mixture of pork rinds and parmesan along with garlic, parsley, and black pepper made a very thick coating.

I used the trusty spray bottle from Pampered Chef that allows you to atomize olive oil into a spray and gave each filet a little squirt of olive oil on each side. Twenty-five minutes later we had lovely, flaky, oven fried fish so light and crispy and non-greasy. It was a cinch to make. I even loved the leftovers, although they didn’t retain their crispiness as a leftover.

You MUST make the Healthy Tartar Sauce too!
Oven Fried Fish Filets
Yield – 4 Servings
Serving Size – 6oz Raw
Prep Time – 10 Minutes
Cook Time – 25 – 30 Minutes
Difficulty – Easy

1-1/2 lbs Fish Filets (About 3 filets-firm white flesh fish - wild caught preferred.)
1/2c Egg Whites (About 3 egg whites, separated)
1c Pork Rind Crumbs (Measure after grinding to crumbs)
1/2c Parmesan Cheese
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Black Pepper
1 Tbsp Parsley Flakes, dried
Olive Oil Spray
Garnish – Lemon Wedges (optional)

Preheat oven to 425°.

Wash and dry fish filet and check for bones. Cut filet into 3 equal pieces roughly the same thickness to ensure even cooking. The thicker the fish, the longer it takes to cook.

Season fish with ½ of the amount of garlic, parsley flakes and pepper and set aside.

Combine remaining spices with pork rind crumbs and parmesan cheese (green can parmesan works just fine for this). I don’t salt them because the pork rinds and parmesan are salty already.

Beat egg whites until loose and frothy. You will see some bubbles!

Dredge each piece of fish in egg white and coat with crumb mixture. Place them on a foil lined cookie sheet pan. Continue to finish breading all the pieces.

Spray fish filets with a squirt of olive oil spray on each side.

Bake at 425° for 20 – 30 minutes. Crust should be golden and crispy and flesh should “give” or separate when pressed in the middle with your finger. Cooking time will be shorter with thinner fish. If using sole or thin filets like flounder, consider raising the oven temperature to 450° and cooking them a shorter amount of time.

Healthy Tartar Sauce tastes so good, you don't miss
the old kind made with 100% mayo. For an even healthier
mixture, try replacing all the mayo with Greek yogurt.
Healthy Tartar Sauce
Yield – ½ cup (Doubles great!)
Serving Size – 2 Tbsp
Prep Time – 10 Minutes
Cooking Time – None

1/4c Greek Yogurt
1/4c Mayonnaise (Hellman’s, Duke’s or Best Brand)*
2 Tbsp Capers
1 Tbsp Onion
1 tsp Dill Relish (Vlassics)
½ Lemon, juiced
Garlic Powder
Kosher Salt
Black Pepper

Finely mince onion and capers.

Mix all ingredients together and refrigerate until ready to serve along with the fish.

Season to taste with garlic powder, salt and fresh black pepper.

*Tartar Sauce Note –
I used an extra 1/4c of Greek yogurt to replace the mayonnaise in this recipe (total 1/2c of Greek Yogurt for the recipe). It worked great and reduced the calories! I didn’t even miss my beloved Hellman’s Mayo! Very easy to make!

Nutrition Information

Full Recipe – Oven Fried Fish (includes 1 lemon wedge as garnish per person)

Single Serving – Oven Fried Fish (includes 1 lemon wedge as garnish per person)

Full Recipe – Healthy Tartar Sauce (includes Hellman’s Mayo in the calculations)

Single Serving – Healthy Tartar Sauce (includes Hellman’s Mayo in the calculations

SusieT’s Notes -
I love this recipe. Having made it for years with mayo as the base, it was one of the first recipes that reassured me I could still have my comfort food without giving up everything in my new low carb life. It was so close to Mom’s recipe simply by subbing the pork rinds and parmesan for the bread crumbs, it made me happy and satisfied the craving for Luby’s Fried Haddock.

I’d long ago moved away from deep fried foods because I had so many indigestion episodes after eating it. Even keeping lower fat, the recipe was a special occasion recipe because of the mayo in it. So imagine how thrilled I was to find I could use this lighter technique on everything from fish filets to chicken fingers, chicken fried steak and pork chops.

And don't just limit oven frying to proteins. This technique works great on oven fried asparagus, baby artichokes, brussel sprouts, rutabaga strips, squash, cauliflower slices and so many more veggies. Move over Shake ‘n’ Bake! Throw away your Fry Daddy. There’s a new boss in town and low carb RULES!

Oh and to make it even easier now days? I use the Egg Whites in a carton called All Whites, nothing but egg whites and so convenient with a twist top. I also make pork rinds one bag at a time in the food processor. Store the pork rind crumbs in a Mason jar in the fridge. That makes them available at short notice for any recipe calling for bread crumbs. How easy, right?

Oven Fried Catfish with Healthy Tartar Sauce and
Kale Salad.
You can use any kind of white fish for this recipe: catfish, tilapia, or better-for-you wild caught fish such as Pacific cod, halibut, haddock, trout, bass, crappie, sole, flounder, snapper, mahi mahi. Although I close my eyes and think of Kansas when eating it, I’m guilty of buying farmed fish such as pangasius or basa, tilapia and catfish.

I wish I could afford the wild caught fish, and that is why I limit my fish consumption – because my budget doesn’t stretch to accommodate them very often.

Also, because I was lazy and didn’t feel like whipping up fresh mayo – I used Greek yogurt for the tartar sauce with very pleasant results! You won’t even miss the fat from the mayo – making this tartar sauce guilt free. Throw it on a plate with a serving of cole slaw or new-fangled kale salad and you would swear you were in the South!

I know I keep chanting “lower” fat but please know, my “lower” fat bears no resemblance to No Fat. I simply keep fats about 40-60% of daily calories – only slightly lower than traditional Atkins formulations. I also make sure the source of the fat is healthy and not full of polyunsaturated vegetable oils and partially hydrogenated oils of any kind. My Greek yogurt is full fat!

I eat a lower fat diet because it makes it easier for me to lose weight. Calories unfortunately, are a factor for weight loss with my broken metabolism. But also, most oncologists and people in the cancer world are avid LOW FAT proponents. *sigh* There are so many studies (many flawed) that associate fat with cancer. I don’t believe them. I don’t think my primary oncologist believes that either, but we play “the game” with each other.

Plus, when I make this skinny version of Healthy Tartar Sauce, I double the recipe and then don’t feel a bit guilty if I want an extra helping of it! Score! Oven fried fish is, after all, nothing more than a tartar sauce delivery system…right?

1 comment:

  1. Bless you for posting this - I can't wait to try it! I grew up in Austin and my dad would only allow cafeterias when taking out the whole fam. That photo of the okra, mac and fish pretty much wraps up my childhood and I often yearn for those comforts. :)


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