The child-like joy of biting into a glorious fish finger sandwich. Sustainable organic 100% fish or not as the case may be. The rare occasion where I may opt for soft white rather than my beloved wholewheat or gluten free bread. Fingers dripping with ketchup, despite my penchant for home-made mayonnaise any other day.
This is not it. And it is not trying to be it. But this delicious combo of crispy fish, creamy sauce and toasted bread is definitely inspired by its memory. With a twist. As I like a twist. Nay, I need a twist.
We’re going fusion with a Japanese twist on a Mexican style Crema, Japanese panko crumb and heat from wasabi and ginger. We’ll pretend this is healthy by adding wholesome avocado, garlicky spinach and rainbow chard. You could go salad.
Key is to use a fat white fish fillet in one piece. Cod, haddock, pollack, coley and hake all work well. Salmon is too strong, sea bass is too dainty.
Salt the fish for up to 30 minutes to firm it up, then cut it across the grain, as you would a good steak.This will help the coujons hold together while cooking.
You could oven bake these at 190 C until crisp and golden. But fish is delicate and has a tendency to dry out in the oven by the time its protective coating is done. Also, there is something deeply satisfying about frying them retro-style in a little oil and butter.
By the way, I won’t blame you if you ditch the toast and simply stuff this in a plain white soft roll instead. And squish it.
Open Sandwich of Fish Coujons with Wasabi Crema (serves 4)
600 gr firm white skinned fish fillets such as cod, haddock, hake or coley, salted and cut into 10 x 3 cm coujons
3-4 heaped tbsp seasoned (GF) flour (liberally use onion powder, ginger powder, garlic powder, cayenne or paprika and S&P)
1 heaped tbsp semolina
100 gr Panko bread crumbs or GF alternative (half of it blitzed or crushed to a finer crumb)
2 tbsp wasabi paste
4 tbsp crema, or creme fraiche, sour cream or cream cheese if you can’t find crema
1 ripe avocado
Fresh herbs such as chives, parsley or coriander, finely chopped
2 tbsp coconut oil, rapeseed oil or confit garlic oil, plus 1 extra for the stir fry
1 tbsp butter (optional)
1 small shallot, finely chopped
a good handful or 2 of mushrooms, cleaned and sliced or roughly chopped (optional)
3-4 good handfuls of spinach, kale or chard, or a mixture
1 clove of garlic, crushed or finely chopped, or 2 cloves of crushed confit garlic
juice of a fresh lemon or lime
To serve: toasted bread of choice (I used Crosta and Mollica farina wholeblend toasting bread , (confit) garlic
Blend the crema with the avocado and wasabi. Season to taste. Set aside,
Get 3 soup plates ready with the following: seasoned flour mixed with semolina, then the egg, beaten with a little salt, then the bread crumbs.
Dip each coujon in the flour, then the egg and finally the breadcrumbs. Toss to coat as you go. Place on a tray lined with greaseproof paper or a silicon baking mat.
Once they are all done, heat the a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat with the oil and butter if using. Fry the coujons in batches until golden, about 8-10 mins, turning halfway through.
Alternatively, bake in a 190 C oven for 15-20 mins or until golden.
Meanwhile, heat a sauté pan or wok over medium-high heat and add the oil. Stir fry the shallot for a minute or so. Add the garlic, spinach, kale or chard and mushrooms if using. Season and add a good squeeze of lemon or lime juice. Stir fry until the greens have wilted and the mushrooms are cooked.
Toast or grill a slice of bread per serving. Rub each toasted slice generously with (confit) garlic.
To serve: spread a tbsp of wasabi crema onto each piece of toast. Top with wilted greens. Place a few fish coujons on top of the greens. Garnish the rest of the wasabi Crema with some fresh herbs and hand around separately.
By the way, I forgot the mushrooms in an earlier version. Equally delicious… Which is why I made the mushrooms optional…