Panko Fried Fish Fillets with Homemade Tartar Sauce

Once fried golden brown, pop the fillets in the oven to cook them through.  This is a healthier alternative to deep fried battered fish and the results are fabulous.

Active Time:  15-20 minutes
Inactive Time:  15-20 minutes
Level: Easy
Serves: 4-6


For the Fish Fillets

  1.  6-8 firm white fillets (cod, tilapia or swai are all good choices), fresh or thawed from frozen
  2. 1/4 cup flour
  3. 1/4 cup cornstarch
  4. 1 TBSP Paprika
  5. Salt and Pepper
  6. 2 eggs
  7. 1 TBSP vodka (optional, adds crunch!)
  8. 2 TBSP cream or milk
  9. 1 cup Panko bread crumbs
  10. 1 TBSP butter (or clarified butter, which you can buy at Trader Joe’s, also called ‘ghee’)
  11. 2 TBSP regular butter
  12. 1-2 TBSP olive oil

For the Tartar Sauce*:

  1. 1 cup mayonnaise (or 1 egg, 3/4 cup vegetable or canola oil, and 2 TBSP olive oil, for Method 2, below)
  2. 2 TBSP sour cream
  3. 1/3 cup minced dill pickles
  4. 3 tablespoons minced shallots
  5. 2 tablespoons drained capers, minced
  6. 2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
  7. 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed juice from 1 lemon
  8. 1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  9. 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  10. 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  11. 1/4 teaspoon hot sauce


For the Fish Fillets:

Preheat oven to 300°F

Set up your dredging station.  You’ll need two, wide shallow dishes and one medium sized bowl.

  • Put the flour and cornstarch in one of the wide, shallow dishes.  Season aggressively with salt and pepper; add paprika and whisk together.
  • In the second wide, shallow dish add Panko bread crumbs.  Crush lightly with the back of a wooden spoon.
  • Crack two eggs into the medium sized bowl; add vodka (if using) and cream/milk.  Whisk together until slightly foamy.
  • Set them up in this order:  Flour mixture, egg wash, bread crumb mixture

Heat olive oil and 1 TBSP clarified butter (or ghee) in a large skillet or sauté pan over medium heat and gently stir to coat the bottom of the pan.  Dredge a fillet first in the flour mixture (shaking of excess), then dip into the egg wash, and then dredge in the breadcrumb mixture, pressing firmly to adhere to each side.

Note:  If you want exceptionally crispy breading that is almost guaranteed not to fall off your fillets, do this:  Dredge in this order – Egg Wash, Flour, Egg wash, Panko Mixture.  Once breaded, place them on a baking sheet and refrigerate them for 30 minutes before continuing to the next step.

Add 2-3 fillets to skillet and fry 3-4 minutes on each side until golden brown.  Repeat with remaining fillets.

Note:  You  can fry more than one at a time, but you’ll probably need to work in batches – every time a fillet is added to the skillet, it will reduce the over-all temperature, which will hinder browning and increase the possibility of soaking the breading in oil rather than frying it.  I’ve found that 3-4 fillets at a time is a good number, depending on their size.  You may also need to add more fat to the pan between batches; this is also okay.  If you do, try to keep the olive oil-to-butter ratio at roughly 1:1.

When all the fillets are browned, place them on a wire rack set on a baking sheet, (or alternatively place them directly on a lightly greased baking sheet, although be warned: skipping the wire rack will make them mushy on the bottom, so seriously, use the wire rack!) and bake them in the preheated oven for about 10 minutes minutes until cooked through, with an internal temperature of at least 145F.

For the Tartar Sauce:

Method 1:  Combine all ingredients and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.  Will keep for two days in the fridge.

Method 2:  Add all ingredients to the bottom of a jar or cup EXCEPT the oils.  Float the vegetable or canola oil on top of the ingredients.  Using an immersion blender, place the head of the blender all the way at the bottom of the container.  Pulse a few times to begin, then turn the blender on.  Allow a vortex to form to emulsify the sauce.  Once all the oil has been incorporated, stir in the 2 TBSP olive oil.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes; will keep for two days in the fridge.

*Tartar Sauce Recipe courtesy of Serious Eats.  I subbed out their parsley for cilantro and added the olive oil in method 2, but it’s basically their recipe.  Check out that post HERE.



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