Panko Crusted Fish Sticks


Have you heard of Swai? Well, I had no idea what it was when I first saw it at an Asian grocery store last summer when I was in Minnesota. It was $2.99 a pound and so I decided to give it a try. Was I ever surprised by the light and flaky texture with a very mild flavor. We breaded it with Panko and it was simply amazing! You can bake it, fry it or steam it. You can add any kind of sauce and spices to it because everything pairs well with it.

Later that same week, I was at one of the Target stores at home and to my surprise they had it in the freezer section. You get four large individually packed fillets (1.5 pounds) for $6.99. The price is great considering that halibut can cost up to $17 a pound. To make it even more appealing, it is very nutritious as well, with only 100 calories per 4 ounces, 2 to 3 grams of fat, and about 50 mg of cholesterol. These figures are even lower than chicken!

To make my crispy fish sticks, I dredged each piece in flour, followed by a dip in egg wash and finally rolled it in a ziplock bag of seasoned Panko bread crumbs. I cooked 4 pieces at a time in a large non stick frying pan with about 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1/2 tablespoon butter. The olive oil definitely has a flavor of its own, so you can also use canola or whatever you have on hand. Just make sure that between batches you use a paper towel to wipe out the excess oil and overly browned bits. The bits will burn and start to smoke...not a good thing! Start with new oil - trust me, you will get a better result if you do.

The fish sticks turned out perfectly...crispy, moist and delicious! You really need to pick up some of this tasty fish. The fillets are individually sealed, so you can keep it in your freezer for up to 6 months. I have a feeling that once this fish becomes more popular that the price will rise. That was the case with Tilapia. I remember when it was sold at the Asian grocery stores for $.99 a pound. Yes, you read that right folks. Tilapia has been around forever and it was $.99 a pound! Over the past several years it has become so popular and the demand so high that I see it at the grocery store for up to $7 per pound.
Run, don't walk, and get yourself some of this tasty fish. It is my family's absolute favorite! We are so hooked that I do not even consider buying any other type of white fish. There is nothing that can compare to the flavor and price. 

For this recipe, you will need the following ingredients:


4 Swai fillets (approximately 1 1/2 -2 pounds), thawed*
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup flour
1 cup Panko
1-2 tbsp Sweet Heat Blend, optional**
olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

*If you cannot find Swai or Tilapia, you can use Cod, Halibut, or Salmon
**If you do not use the sweet heat blend, you can add 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper to Panko and flour mixture.

Sweet Heat Blend:

1/2 tsp granulated garlic
1/2 tsp granulated onion
1/4-1/2 tsp chili powder, optional
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp dried cilantro
1/4-1/2 tsp salt
1/4-1/2 tsp pepper


Sweet Heat Blend:

Blend together in small airtight container, You can use this seasoning for meat and other fish.

Panko Breaded Fish Sticks:

1. Combine flour and 1 tbsp Sweet Heat Blend into a gallon sized ziptop bag. This will cut down the mess! Set aside.

2. Using paper towels, pat your fish to remove excess liquid. The drier you can get your fish, the better that breading will stick.

3. Cut each fillet into four pieces (16 total), dip in egg and then place three pieces at a time in Panko mixture bag. Seal bag shut and shake. Press the breading into the fish. Remove and place in a baking sheet lined with paper towels. Repeat with remaining fillets.

4. Heat oil and butter over medium-high heat in a non-stick frying pan until bubbling and hot.

5. Place the breaded fish sticks into pan fry until golden brown. Do not overcrowd the pan. You may have to make two or three batches. Remove and place on paper towel-lined plate to absorb any extra oil. Sprinkle lightly with additional salt after you remove from pan (optional).

6. Serve with tartar sauce or sweet chili sauce depending on your preference. Enjoy!