Baked Fish with Crispy Crumbs
By Cook's Country Magazine | Cook's Illustrated Test Kitchen
YIELD: 4 servings
TIME: About 1 hour
3 T unsalted butter
1 large shallot, minced
salt and pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
1 t minced fresh thyme (dry can be substituted)
3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
2 T minced fresh parsley
2 T mayonnaise
1 large egg yolk
1/2 t grated lemon zest (more cannot hurt!)
4 (6 to 8-ounce) skinless cod fillets ( or haddock, halibut)
1. Place oven rack in the middle and heat oven to 300 degrees. Place a wire rack inside a rimmed baking sheet and spray with vegetable oil. Melt butter in a 12 inch skillet over medium heat. Add shallot and 1/2 t salt and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and and thyme, cook until fragrant, about 30 secs. Add panko and 1/4 t pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, until evenly browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in parsley. Transfer to a shallow dish and let cool at least 10 minutes.
2. Whisk mayonnaise, egg yolk, lemon zest and 1/4 t per together in a bowl. Rinse fillets, pat dry and season with salt and pepper. Coat tops of fillets evenly with mayonnaise mixture and dredge the coated side with the panic mixture and press gently to adhere. Place the fillets on the wire rack crumb side up. Bake until the centers are opaque and fish registers 135 degrees, 30-40 minutes, rotating pan during the baking. Serve with lemon wedges.
The genius of this recipe is to brown the crumbs first so that the fish can be cooked slowly at a low temperature so it doesn't dry out. The mayo mixture provides the glue to keep the crumbs in place and as a vehicle for the lemon zest.
The crumbs should be cooked to a golden brown. Be careful not to overcook them. Once they begin to brown they go very quickly. Likewise don't overcook the fish. Unless the fillets are especially thick, 30 mins seems to be plenty.
I usually serve this with broccoli or asparagus and hollandaise sauce, the latter also being very good on the fish.