Reduced-Fat Oven-Fried Fish with Tartar Sauce
From Cook's Country
While developing our Reduced-Fat Oven-Fried Fish with Tartar Sauce recipe, we quickly discovered that delicate, flaky fish like cod or haddock release far too much liquid during cooking, which prevented the crumbs from crisping. Firm, meaty halibut held its shape and stayed comparatively dry. Adding a strong barrier of tartar sauce, spices, egg whites, and flour helped seal in liquid, keeping the crumb coating crisp. Applying bread crumbs only on top of the fish maintained the iconic crunch, but saved calories and eliminated the problem of a mushy coating on the bottom. Replacing classic tartar sauce with a mixture of low-fat mayonnaise, pickles, shallots, capers, Worcestershire sauce, and lemon juice cut calories and fat but didn’t skimp on flavor. In total, traditional recipes have 660 calories, 51 grams of fat, and 5.5 grams of saturated fat per serving (two 3-ounce fillets and one 3-tablespoon serving of tartar sauce). Our changes brought the numbers down to 260 calories, 7.5 grams of fat, and only half a gram of saturated fat.
If using frozen fillets, press them dry with paper towels. The calorie count for the tartar sauce was calculated using Hellmann's low-fat mayonnaise.
- 1 cup low-fat mayonnaise (see note)
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped sweet pickles, plus 2 teaspoons juice
- 1 tablespoon drained capers, minced
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon minced shallot
- 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- Salt and pepper
- 3 slices hearty white sandwich bread, torn into pieces
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 large egg whites
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh parsley
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon pepper
- 1 1/2 pounds halibut fillet (see note), skin removed, cut into 8 (3-ounce) portions
1. MAKE TARTAR SAUCE Whisk mayonnaise, pickles, pickle juice, capers, lemon juice, shallot, and Worcestershire in bowl. Season with salt and pepper.
2. MAKE COATING Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Pulse bread in food processor until coarsely ground. Bake bread crumbs on rimmed baking sheet, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 8 minutes. Transfer toasted bread crumbs to shallow dish. Combine ¼ cup tartar sauce, ¼ cup flour, egg whites, mustard, parsley, and cayenne in second shallow dish. Place remaining flour, salt, and pepper in third shallow dish.
3. COAT AND BAKE Raise oven temperature to 450 degrees. Set wire rack inside rimmed baking sheet and lightly grease with cooking spray. Pat fish dry with paper towels. One at a time, dredge fillets lightly in seasoned flour. Dip top and sides of fillets in tartar sauce-egg white mixture and cover top and sides with bread crumbs, pressing to adhere. Transfer breaded fish to prepared rack, spray each fillet lightly with cooking spray, and bake until crumbs are golden brown and fish is cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes. Serve with remaining tartar sauce.
Crisping Oven-Fried Fish
The toasted crumb coating on oven-fried fish may start out crispy, but the moisture released by the fish as it cooks can turn it soggy. Here's how we fixed that.
1. STRONG BARRIER A mixture of tartar sauce, spices, egg whites, and flour helps seal in liquid as the halibut cooks, keeping the crumb coating crisp.
2. BARE BOTTOM Any crumbs underneath the fish become soggy. By leaving the bottoms bare, we remove the problem (and the calories).
3. ON THE RACK Elevating the fish on a wire rack lets escaping moisture drip away so the fish doesn't steam in its own juices.