5-Spice Breaded Fish
Updated: Oct 30, 2021
This started life as leftover chicken wrapped in lettuce, courtesy of Nigel Slater. It quickly became breaded pheasant escalope (my mother says that's the best fate to have befallen a pheasant), spent a brief episode as breaded pork escalope (my sister-in-law doesn't eat bird-like foods - except duck and goose) and has now incarnated itself in fishy form.
It's desperately simple and is hardly a recipe. It's just that the ever-familiar Chinese 5-spice works extremely well with breaded stuff and also with fruity chutney - the sort that needs using up from your Christmas hamper. And breading fish is an absolutely superb way to enjoy the less prestigious, but cheaper, more sustainable and perfectly healthy fish varieties. I have used pollack here, but plaice, flounder, whiting and dab are all great options.
I've never quite understood why, when panéeing an ingredient we are directed to season the flour or the breadcrumbs. Why not just season the main protagonist? And with fish I recommend to season well.
I think an ideal accompaniment for this dish (whether made with fish, pheasant or pork) is steamed pak choi with an oyster sauce dressing. However, pak choi is not available year-round (well, yes it is in the supermarkets), but a willing alternative, in season at this time of year, is Swiss chard. The oyster sauce dressing I have noted below is from Rick Stein and is one I turn to regularly. Any fruity chutney will accompany well. There's a pear one I make a batch of from time to time when my veg box gets a little overly pear-heavy and that's a real winner.
No need for quantities in this recipe.
5-Spice Breaded Fish
Skinless fish fillets
Sunflower or vegetable oil for shallow-frying
Breadcrumbs (Panko are ideal)
Salt and freshly-ground black pepper
Season the fish fillets with salt, pepper and a dusting of Chinese 5-spice.
Put the flour, whisked egg and breadcrumbs in separate bowls, then coat the fish fillets first in the flour, then in the egg and finally in the breadcrumbs.
Shallow fry the breaded fillets for a minute or so on either side until golden and cooked through. Drain on kitchen paper.
Serve with lemon wedges and your choice of fruity chutney.
Oyster sauce dressing. In a small saucepan combine 2 tsp sunflower oil, 1 tsp sesame oil, 4 tbsp oyster sauce and 1 tbsp soy sauce and warm. This will make sufficient dressing for steamed greens for four.
"Rick Stein's Food Heroes", Rick Stein (2002), pp. 171: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Rick-Steins-Food-Heroes-Stein/dp/0563534745
"Chinese chicken and chutney sandwich", Nigel Slater's Dish of the Day, BBC, accessed 12 January 2020: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00zzlgp