Fishstix

Fishstix aren’t just for kids! Adults love these too, especially when using meat from small fish that are normally thought of as throw-backs. Tater tots make a great side dish. (Picture by Jerry Dilsaver)

If you’re like me, fishstix doesn’t sound like the most interesting meal. In fact, it brings back memories of being served fish at the elementary and middle school cafeterias. For many folks, those memories weren’t the greatest and turned them off, maybe for life. Well, it’s time to give them another try. This approach to fishstix has some interesting variations and most folks are pleasantly surprised. They’re a good option anytime and especially so during the slower fishing in the heat of July.

Even in the heat of summer, it’s sometimes fun to fire up the grill and eat outside. However, on other days, the heat and humidity are both in the 90s and it’s nice to retreat indoors and enjoy the AC. Either way, it’s still nice to enjoy a meal of fresh-caught fish.

This is a recipe I often think of in the summer, especially when fishing is slow or we’re introducing kids to fishing. The base works well and completes the fishing experience for kids who want to eat their catch of smaller fish or who are squeamish about eating fish. It makes the fish into pieces that look a bit like chicken fingers and most kids will eat chicken fingers or nuggets, especially if they’re paired with French fries or tater tots and lots of catsup. This works for some adults too.


Fishstix

This is a different way to prepare fish and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at its smooth mild taste. In addition, it is a good option for several ideas. First, it’s a great way to introduce kids or squeamish adults to eating fish. And you can cover them in catsup for a bit of a disguise.

Combine the meat from numerous small fish to create the perfect fishstix. (Picture by Jerry Dilsaver)

Second, it’s a way to use small amounts of several different species of fish for a good meal that isn’t tacos or fish cakes. I like fish cakes and fish tacos, but this is simpler to prepare and tastes good in a different way. Usually once someone tries fishstix, they like them and it’s a good lead in to eating fish prepared in a variety of ways.

The basic recipe is almost too simple. It is chopped up boneless fish, cheese and an egg, with salt and pepper to taste. This is mixed, then formed into sticks. The sticks are baked in the oven or can be cooked on a grill or even fried. It doesn’t get much simpler than that.

Fries are the standard way to serve potatoes with fish and they work well with this. I like it better with tater tots instead of fries. They can be baked at the same time as the fishstix or they can be fried if that’s your preference.

The final thing is to have some dipping sauces to eat with the fishstix. Tartar sauce is a staple and may be the only one needed with the basic recipe. I add a sauce made from adding Texas Pete Cha Sauce to mayonnaise and mixing it well. This sauce can be made from mild to very spicy. Tasting it is the best test, but the lighter pink this sauce is, the milder it is. And as you add more Cha Sauce, it turns redder and gets spicier. Enjoy!


INGREDIENTS:

Base Version:

1 1/2 Cup flaked boneless fish

1 Cup grated mild cheddar cheese

1 Egg

Salt and pepper

Tartar sauce

 

Adult Version:

1 1/2 Cup flaked fish

1 Egg

1/4 Cup minced onion

1 TSP minced garlic

1/4 Cup finely chopped jalapeno pepper

1/4 Cup seasoned bread crumbs

1/2 Cup seafood breader

Old Bay, Tony Chachere’s or Redfish Magic seasoning

Tartar sauce and assorted dipping sauces

 

PREPARATION:

  1. Clean fish and remove all bones and dark meat.

Base Version:

  1. Mix fish, cheese, egg salt and pepper in a medium size bowl.
  2. Form mixture into fish sticks.
  3. Place fish sticks onto parchment paper in a flat baking pan.
  4. Preheat oven to 400.
  5. Cook sticks approximate 20 minutes, being careful not to overcook them.
  6. Serve while warm.

Adult Version:

  1. Mix fish, onion, garlic, jalapeno, bread crumbs and seasoning in a medium size bowl.
  2. Form mixture into fish sticks.
  3. Roll fish sticks in seafood breader.
  4. Place fish sticks onto parchment paper in a flat baking pan.
  5. Preheat oven to 400.
  6. Cook sticks approximately 20 minutes, being careful not to overcook them or scorch the breader.
  7. Serve while warm.

*An option beginning with step 4 in the basic version and step 5 in the adult version is to heat some peanut oil in a frying pan and fry the fishstix. This can also be used to cook fries or tater tots and hush puppies.

This serves well with French fries or potato tots, slaw and hush puppies. Fresh homemade ice cream, made after finishing dinner, is the perfect way to top this off, as making home-made ice cream is fun for kids of all ages.

This used to be a recipe we only used when we had guests with kids or others who were squeamish about eating fish. Then I started making the adult versions and it has become more regular in the recipe rotation. It works with about any fish, large or small and can even be used with lightly cooked leftovers. Give it a try the next time you need to persuade someone to try fish. Then, try a piece yourself – I believe you’ll like it and the adult versions are even better.

About Jerry Dilsaver 1171 Articles
Jerry Dilsaver of Oak Island, N.C., a full-time freelance writer, is a columnist for Carolina Sportsman. He is a former SKA National Champion and USAA Angler of the Year.

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