Summer is here and so starts fishing season. There is a local watering hole nearby that is the perfect spot for our little gang. The water is shallow, the fish are small and there is ample space for them to run around. It’s hard not to get caught up in the excitement even though I don’t enjoy storing worms in my refrigerator!
Initially when Brian recruited me to go I was not all that enthusiastic. I just pictured flying hooks getting stuck into little limbs; yucky worms slithering about, and at least one accidental fall into the lake. Neither Brian nor I relished the thought of wading in the mucky water to rescue one of the kids.
But miraculously none of the above happened. What did happen were three little boys casting their lines, sitting in absolute SILENCE, legs dangling off the dock, patiently waiting for a bite. I have been hooked ever since!
Granted, when someone catches a fish all hell breaks loose as everybody jumps into action to help reel it in. But those moments before the fish bite there is a hypnotic calm that overtakes our clan and I love it. I try to appreciate these pockets of quiet time because they are truly rare around here.
This week in celebration of the season I am cooking up a childhood favorite, except I am getting my catch at Fairway instead of from the Gorton Fisherman.
Fish Sticks w/Tartar Sauce
3 Tbsp mayonnaise
1 pickle, finely diced
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
Salt & pepper
1 lb. Tilapia, or any firm white fish, skin removed, cut into 1” strips
2 cups buttermilk
2 cups plain panko breadcrumbs
1 Tbsp lemon pepper seasoning
Kosher salt & pepper
Tartar Sauce: In a small bowl combine mayonnaise, diced pickle, lemon juice. Add salt and pepper to taste. Let set in refrigerator for at least one hour.
Fish Sticks: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Season the fish with salt and pepper. Pour buttermilk in a large bowl. In a shallow dish, combine breadcrumbs with lemon pepper seasoning.
Dip the fish sticks into the buttermilk and then dredge in the breadcrumbs, pressing gently to coat completely.
Place on baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, turning once, until crispy and fish cooked through. Serve with tartar sauce and lemon wedges.
And the VERDICT is:
Matthew (age 6): “These fish sticks are AMAZING! What does Tartar mean?”
Liam (age 4): “Can I dip these in apple sauce instead?”
Dylan (age 4): “I don’t like the tick tock sauce but these chicken fingers are yummy”
I walked away from the table for literally two minutes to search for the answer to Matthew’s question. In that time the boys consumed the entire serving (1lb!) of fish sticks – I will definitely be making these again!
And the answer is: Tartar sauce was named after the Tatar peoples of Mongolia. The sauce was originally devised to be eaten with steak tartare, but is now usually served with seafood.
Matthew wasn’t too interested in the explanation; he had already moved onto dessert….