Not all breadcrumbs are created equal under cod. Panko breadcrumbs form light, airy crusts averse to absorbing oil, due to their large individual surface area. Panko is made in custom ovens that cook loaves of high-gluten wheat dough using electric current instead of heat. Bladed screens then shave the loaves into long, fine slivers used to bread everything from hearty casseroles to delicate fish, such as ling cod. Ling cod, or Pacific greenling, patrols the waters of the Pacific Northwest, where you find it in upscale versions of fish and chips made with -- you guessed it -- panko breadcrumbs.
Things You'll Need
- All-purpose flour
- Milk or cream
- 2 shallow dishes
- Panko breadcrumbs
- Seasonings and breading ingredients (optional)
- Paper towels
- Wide, heavy bottomed pot
- Peanut, canola or sunflower oil
- Wok or cast-iron skillet (optional)
- Candy or meat thermometer
- Slotted deep-fryer spoon or fryer-basket insert
- Long-handled tongs
Set up a breading station consisting of a plate of all-purpose flour for dredging, a shallow dish of standard egg wash -- one egg beaten with 1/2 tablespoon of milk or cream for each fillet -- for dipping and a shallow dish of panko breadcrumbs for coating. You can substitute cultured buttermilk for egg wash, if desired.
Season the panko to taste, if desired. Keep it basic by adding just kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, or create a flavor profile by adding a mix of dried spices. You can also add chopped nuts, chopped herbs, shredded all-purpose potatoes, crushed corn flakes or shredded coconut in parts equal in volume to the panko, to play with the textures a bit. Mix the ingredients if you added any and panko by hand.
Remove the ling cod fillets from the refrigerator and pat them dry with paper towels. Season the fillets to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper if you didn't season the panko with salt and pepper.
Set up a frying station with a deep fryer or a wide, heavy-bottomed pot filled with 3 or 4 inches of peanut, canola or sunflower oil over medium-high heat. Use a candy thermometer attached to the side or dip a meat thermometer in the center of the oil to check the temperature, and adjust the heat as needed to keep the oil between 350 and 375 F.
Fill a wok or cast-iron skillet with 1 inch of peanut, sunflower or canola oil and place it over medium-high heat if you don't want to deep fry the ling cod.
Line a plate with paper towels and place it close to the frying station. The faster you blot the excess oil from the panko crust, the lighter and crisper it remains.
Dredge the ling cod fillets in the flour on both sides, dip them in the egg wash and lay them down in the panko. Gently press the fillets into the panko on both sides.
Place the ling cod fillets on a slotted deep-frying spoon or in a fryer-basket insert and lower them into the oil. Lay the fillets down gently in the wok or skillet if pan-frying.
Fry the ling cod for about three to five minutes total. Turn the fillets over in the oil with long-handled tongs after about two minutes of frying.
Remove the fillets from the oil as soon as the panko turns a shade lighter than you want it. If you want a deep, dark golden brown, remove the fillets when they turn dark blonde. The fillets continue cooking for about 30 seconds after you remove them from the oil, and the panko turns about a shade darker also.
Drain the ling cod on the plate lined with paper towels. Gently blot the panko crust with paper towels to remove the excess oil on the surface.
Tips & Warnings
- You can cook panko-crusted ling cod fillets by drizzling them with oil and baking them in a shallow-sided, oiled baking dish or cookie sheet until golden brown in a 350-F oven.
- When cooking several fillets, allow the oil a minute or two to return to between 350 and 375 F between batches.