Let Happy Help You Get Your Lent On With This Fried Fish Recipe

Let Happy Help You Get Your Lent On With This Fried Fish Recipe

It is time to get all Catholic Jesus-loving with a crunchy panko fried tilapia – tartar sauce included!

I can’t think of a better reason to make my hair smell funny than pan fried fish in hot oil. Though I often opt out of frying fish when I can’t open a window, I have come to accept that winter is never going to end and made my peace with it.


Panko is a Japanese invention. It is made from bread that has been zapped with electricity, instead of baking, and the crumbs don’t absorb as much oil. The end result is a lighter crust, without sacrificing flavor or texture. Panko works well with seafood, and it’s a great choice when you don’t want fish wrapped in five pounds of pancake batter.


3-4 tilapia filets
Salt and pepper, for seasoning
2 c. panko crumbs
2 tsp. minced parsley
1 tbsp. grated lemon zest
1 tsp. Sabroso seasoning (salt-free)*
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 egg plus 1 egg white, beaten
¼ c. beer or ale
4-5 tbsp. Crisco
Lemon wedges, for serving

*Cayenne pepper, Creole seasoning or Old Bay can be used instead. Reduce the amount of salt in this recipe if using a prepared seasoning blend.

Rinse off the fish, pat dry and season. In a bowl, mix panko, parsley, grated lemon, Sabroso, and kosher salt. Mix the eggs and beer in a separate bowl.

Melt the shortening over medium heat. Dip the fish into the egg mixture, and then the panko mixture. Press down slightly to coat the fish evenly on both sides. Shake off the excess and fry it up – about two or three minutes per side. Repeat this step until you run out of filets. Have a wad of stacked paper towels handy, and let the fish rest there to absorb excess oil.

Depending on the size of the pan you are using, I recommend cooking only one or two filets at a time. If you glob everything into the pan at the same time, it reduces the temperature of the oil and forces the filets to cook longer. Absolutely no one wants unevenly toasted, overcooked fish.

Now, about that tartar sauce. If you think some half-assed mayonnaise and relish sauce on this fish will do, boy are you wrong! This is the best fricking tartar sauce in the world:

½ c. mayo
2 tbs. sweet pickle relish
7 capers, minced fine
2 tsp. minced dill, fresh
½ clove of garlic, minced fine
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. cider or malt vinegar
Dash of brown mustard
½ tsp. sugar
Couple shakes of Old Bay
Pepper, salt to taste

Put everything into a bowl or a coffee mug and mix it up. That is ALL. It isn’t as thick as something you might find in a bottle, because low-grade tartar sauce from the store is probably made with polymers, which are chemicals associated with hanging drywall, which is a thing you do not want. Trust me, you can’t be bothered with other tartar sauces once you have tried mine. So damn good.

I had leftover fish. Yes, I am out of my mind. And this recipe is brilliant for fish sandwiches. When I stink up the place, I intend to get at least two meals for my trouble.

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