When I was a kid I loved St. Patrick’s Day! My mom made the milk in my cereal green, I eagerly got dressed in my green outfit for the day, and even more eagerly pinched every person in my path that was sans green. Don’t mess with me on St. Paddy’s Day!
In college, I also loved St. Patrick’s Day. Different reasons, though. Ehem.
And then sometime in my 20s as St. Patrick’s Day approached it hit me – I’m not Irish. Not even close! Was this even my holiday to celebrate? Eh, whatever. Another Guinness, please!
I made it to Ireland in 2003 and was pleasantly surprised at how delicious the food was. From what I heard from others, I didn’t have much to look forward to – but that could not have been more wrong. I had the best fish and chips of my life! While in Galway, we went to this place on a whim – the line was out the door so we assumed it was good – and faced a simple menu. There were no less than ten different types of fish to choose from and fries (er, chips). That’s it. Hoooo boy, that was a good meal! Crunchy coating on the fish; flaky and delicate inside. Fresh cut fries. All drizzled with a squeeze of lemon and little malt vinegar. (I *may* be drooling right now.)
For this St. Patrick’s Day, I thought I would share a “recipe” (I use that term loosely) for healthified crunchy fish (or chicken) and baked sweet potato chips. Perfect for little fingers – and delicious enough for grown-up tastes.
Baked Fish n’ Chips
I mostly used the recipe from How to Cook Everything with some variations. I’m not giving you a real recipe here; just instructions. Trust your instincts and taste often (not the raw fish or chicken, of course)! You’ll be fine.
For the chips…
- Sweet potatoes – as many as you want
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.
Peel and slice your taters. You can cut them into any shape you want just be consistent. Cut them so they are long and thin like fries (like in my photo); into rounds; into chunks. Your choice. Just not too thick otherwise they will take FOREVER to cook through.
Spread them on a baking sheet and drizzle with a little oil, salt, and pepper. Not too much… you can always add more. If you want to make sweet fries, you could skip the pepper and add a dash of cinnamon. Want some heat? Hot smoked paprika or cayenne works great.
When roasting any veggies, here is the most important thing: Lay them flat and make sure they aren’t touching each other. In order to get that nice roasty toasty goodness, they need space. If you don’t give them their space, they will just steam with no roasty toasty goodness. You might need two baking sheets.
Roast for 10-15 min on the first side. Flip and roast for another 10-15 min or until both sides are nice and browned and the taters are cooked through. Every oven is different so keep an eye on them so they don’t burn.
(By the way… you can totally make a bunch of these and freeze them. It is like having those bagged fries from the grocery store in your freezer only these are homemade to your family’s liking!)
For the fish…
- About 1.5 lbs of fish fillets – I used cod. You could use catfish, snapper, striped bass, or even salmon. You could also use tilapia, but that makes this a knife-and-fork meal and you should reduce the cooking time. You can also replace the fish with boneless skinless chicken breasts. My husband doesn’t eat fish, so I made this with chicken and it worked just fine. Everything else is the same, although the cooking time may vary depending on your oven. Use your meat thermometer to check that they are cooked through.
- Milk – I used skim because that’s what we drink. Use whatever you have… just not chocolate! This was part of the recipe from my cookbook… it replaces egg which is generally used in this kind of recipe. I liked it better for a lot of reasons: it wasn’t clumpy; it is healthier; and it is cheaper to use. Win Win Win. If you want to use egg, go for it. Another variation suggested in my cookbook is to use lemon juice instead of either milk or egg.
- Bread crumbs – Panko works best because it is so crunchy. You can get panko in any grocery store; it isn’t as fancy as it sounds. If you can’t find them or you don’t want to buy them special, use regular ol’ bread crumbs. Rice Krispies would also work.
- Salt and pepper – And any other spices you want to put in your crunchy coating. I added a little garlic powder and smoked paprika because I like heat. Use whatever you want.
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
Slice the fish filets into pieces. If you want them to be like fish sticks, cut them into that shape. If you want them to be meatier, cut them into bigger pieces. Mine were a little smaller than the size and shape of a Snickers bar.
Pour some milk into a shallow bowl and put the bread crumbs on a plate. Season your bread crumbs with a pinch of salt, pepper, and whatever other spices you want to use. Stir. Taste them! Flavorful? Bland? Adjust them as needed.
Dip your fish pieces into the milk. Get them nice and wet. Then put them into the crumbs and make sure they are thoroughly coated. Then onto a lightly oiled baking sheet (LIGHTLY oiled! Drizzle a tad and smear it with a paper towel. Just enough so it doesn’t stick.)
Once you have them all on the pan, bake for about 8-15 minutes depending on the thickness of the fish. This is a good time to employ your meat thermometer… fish should be cooked to 145 degrees and chicken to 165 degrees.
Just before the fish is done, pop the chips back in the oven to heat them up again.
Serve with a squeeze of lemon, a splash of malt vinegar if you have it, and/or tartar sauce. (I made a quick tartar sauce of Greek yogurt, salt, pepper, lemon juice, and minced pickles. Worked great!)
Happy St. Paddy’s Day to you Irish and non-Irish readers alike!