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Healthier “Fish and Chips” in Less Than 30 Minutes

If you enjoy eating seafood and you like fried foods (who doesn’t?), it’s hard not to see the appeal of the quintessential pub fare of fish and chips. Served with a generous amount of tartar sauce for dipping, a bottle of malt vinegar for sprinkling and maybe even a pint or two of beer to help wash it all down, this dish is nothing if not comfort food. But with this comes a price: tons of sodium and fat in each giant serving.

 

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Health reasons aside, making traditional fish and chips at home is a production that requires a pretty hefty investment of time and kitchen space: peeling, cutting, rinsing and drying the potatoes; blanching and refrying the potatoes; and battering and frying the fish. Multiple times. No wonder there are so few recipes that serve less than four people: it simply isn’t worth the effort.

Tasty and Easy to Make

couple at kitchen table

The senior friendly recipe below for Crispy Toaster-Oven Cod with Pan-Roasted Potatoes offers a simpler, healthier, less messy alternative inspired by the flavors of the original. It can easily be made at home on a smaller scale in less than half an hour from start to finish. The secret is this: conveniently baking the fish in a countertop toaster oven while cooking the potatoes on the stovetop.

A thin layer of tartar sauce applied to the top of the fish keeps it moist, while a sprinkling of panko (Japanese-style bread crumbs) gives it a light, delicate crispness. There is no need for additional sauce on the side. Just a light squeeze of lemon or a few shakes of malt vinegar will do.

large family dinner gathering

The potatoes cook in a smart, time-efficient manner that essentially combines three methods in one: simmering, steaming, then pan-roasting, all in the same covered nonstick pan. The beauty of this technique is that the pan does the work for you: it isn’t even necessary to stir—in fact, you shouldn’t!

The same halved raw potatoes would normally take about 45 minutes to roast in an oven, or about half that amount of time if parboiled first. Instead, the potatoes are placed cut-side-down in a hot, oiled nonstick pan, to which just enough water is added to allow them to simmer when covered. Once most of the water evaporates, the potatoes begin to steam. When all of the liquid is gone, the potatoes begin their third act of pan-roasting, which allows them to become nicely browned on the underside, just as they would had they been roasted (for much longer) in an oven. The result? Pan-roasted potatoes that are crisp on the outside and tender-creamy on the inside, in about 10 minutes.

couple canoodling

While you may not give up the real deal entirely for this better-for-you version of fish and chips, it’s a great meal to have in your back pocket. The cod can be purchased in packages of individually quick frozen fillets and thawed one or two at a time in the refrigerator the night before. Given how easy it is to make, you might find that it becomes a regular option in your weeknight meal rotation.

Crispy Toaster-Oven Cod with Pan-Roasted Potatoes

Panko (Japanese-style bread crumbs) can be found in Asian markets and in the international aisle of many well-stocked supermarkets. When adding the potatoes to the pan, use tongs to flip the pieces over so they all face the proper direction. Try serving the cod and potatoes with a simple green salad to round out the meal. 

Ingredients

lemon wedge

2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil

12 ounces baby potatoes, about 1 inch in diameter, scrubbed clean and halved

1/2 cup water

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 1/2 Tbs. mayonnaise

1 Tbs. sweet pickle relish

2 cod fillets, each about 4 ounces and 1 inch thick

2 Tbs. panko

Lemon wedges and malt vinegar, for serving

Cooking Instructions

oil poured into skillet

1. Preheat the toaster oven to 400°F. Line a toaster oven baking sheet with foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Warm the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the potatoes cut-side down, season with salt and pepper and pour in the water. Cook, covered, until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a paring knife, all the liquid has evaporated and the cut sides of the potatoes are crisp and browned, about 10 minutes.  

3. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise and relish. Place the cod on the prepared baking sheet, season with salt and pepper and spread the mayonnaise mixture on top. Sprinkle evenly with the panko, pressing gently to help the crumbs adhere. Lightly spray the panko with nonstick cooking spray.

4. Bake the fish until the panko is golden and the flesh flakes easily, about 10 minutes.

5. Divide the fish and potatoes between two plates, and serve with lemon wedges and malt vinegar.

Serves 2.