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Recipe: Crispy Panko Fish Sticks with Tzatziki Dip

In an effort to embrace fish sticks, a popular fast food treat, this recipe offers a tasty and healthy alternative to the breaded and fried fast food sticks served with tartar sauce.  There are a few major changes to make ‘em healthier.   First and most obviously: don’t fry them.  Second, use fresh fish – if you don’t, you’re sacrificing flavor.  Though frozen fish is often less expensive, there are inexpensive fish that are worth a couple extra bucks (like tilapia or flounder).  Lastly, don’t dip them in fattening sauces (like tartar sauce)!

The key to a crispy outside is the double crust – and the time in between coatings is important!  If you rush the process, the first layer won’t have enough time to settle and bind together.

Crispy Panko Fish Sticks with Tzatziki Dip

Serves 4

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tilapia fillets (about 1 ½ pounds)
  • 2 cups panko
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds (ground)
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 4 tablespoons dried parsley or oregano
  • 1 large egg
  • 6 ounces low-fat or non-fat plain Greek yogurt
  • ½ cucumber, halved, seeded, and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • 2 lemons, one zested and halved and the other cut into wedges
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Begin the first breading by mixing the panko, fennel seeds, garlic powder, and parsley on a large dinner plate.  Set another plate next to it.  Cut the tilapia lengthwise down the middle and then crosswise in the middle to create sticks. Lightly season the fish with salt and pepper and coat it well in the panko breading.  Repeat with each piece of fish, cover, and let sit for 30 minutes.  Side note: letting the fish sit out for 30 minutes is not potentially hazardous as long as it was refrigerated and/or cold beforehand and you cook it immediately.

Preheat the oven to 375°F and place a rack in the top half of the oven.  Coat the tilapia sticks with the egg and coat again with the panko.  Heat olive oil in an oven-safe, non-stick frying pan over medium heat.  Add fish and let cook until browned on one side (about 2-3 minutes).  Flip the sticks to the uncooked side and place in the oven until browned and flaky, about 8-10 minutes.

While the fish cooks, prepare the tzatziki by combining the cucumber, dill, the juice of half a zested lemon, salt and pepper.

NUTRITION INFORMATION:
343 calories ∣ 73 calories from fat ∣ 8 g fat ∣ 2 g saturated fat ∣ 27 g carbs ∣ 4 g fiber ∣ 43 g protein ∣ Good source of vitamins B12 and K ∣ selenium ∣ phosphorous

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