basil and parmesan panko fried flounder, baby greens with a mustard lemon dressing

Fried food isn’t usually my thing. I probably should admit this up front. When I do fry things they don’t then ordinarily go over a salad. Today I felt like I needed a change; something about the start of a new week does that to me. I wanted to try to lighten things up and a crunchy seasoned panko crusted fish over some baby lettuce with a homemade tangy dressing sounded like the perfect combination.

A flounder was the white fish we had in our freezer and it was exactly the right fish to use. I went about defrosting two fillets while I meandered around the condo looking busy in between a marathon History Channel documentary.

When I figured the fish was ready, in my pjs I rushed to the kitchen, grabbing three plates and went to prep my dredging station. I promptly made a huge mess; spilling the flour all over the floor, dropping an egg and not realizing the juices from the defrosted fish were still on the plate when I removed it from the fridge.

It was clear I needed to take my time with this one.

You will need:

  • Fish (flounder or any white fish you prefer)
  • An egg (or more, depending on how many people you are feeding though, rarely have I ever exceed two eggs)
  • Sea salt and black pepper
  • Dried basil
  • Lemon juice (fresh or bottled)
  • Mustard (we used basic yellow mustard as we wanted the color and the amount of turmeric)
  • Olive oil
  • Flour
  • Panko (not regular bread crumbs; panko makes all the difference)
  • Grated parmesan (if grating yourself, make sure it’s really fine)
  • Lettuce (we used baby sweet lettuce)

In your first station, put your flour. Second station, crack your egg and add a tablespoon of water to it, whisk it. Third station, place your panko, mixing it with parmesan and dried basil. There is no exact measurement; you will add more mixture if you run out. I like a lot of flavor so I used a decent amount of both parmesan and basil to season the panko. It is paramount that you season this as it’s the only place your fish will get flavor. Also add your salt and pepper to this. Combine so it’s all mixed together.

In a sauté pan, coat the bottom with olive oil. You are not deep frying anything so you just need enough to coat the bottom completely and inevitably, the bottom portion of each fish. Do not turn on your stovetop at this time unless you’re quick with your dredging.

Take your filet of fish in your left hand (you will need a wet ingredient hand and a dry ingredient hand – pick at this time which works best for you) and dredge it in the flour, taking portions of flour with the same hand and covering the fish. With the same chosen hand, flip the fish and coat the other side. This is to help dry the fish so that it will go into the egg and the panko getting coated completly.

Move the fish down the dredging line with your hand – allowing the egg mixture to slop onto the fish as it will naturally, and then lay it gently into the panko mixture. With your other dry hand, pick up some of the panko and drop it onto the fish, coating it as you turn it upside down and do the same with the other side. Get every inch of your fish that you can. Now, heat your pan. I used medium heat, you may need medium high.

When the sauté pan is hot, lay your fish gently into it and make note of the time. For flounder, I cooked it five minutes on each side.

When you flip it, you will see how golden brown they get with the panko.

All the flecks of the basil can be clearly seen as well.

While the fish cooks, start making your dressing. I use a measuring cup as I can mix and pour from the same vessel. Growing up, we made a lot of our own dressings so, this is really a nostalgic and preferable thing for me to do. Take your mustard and squeeze in a half or better part of one tablespoon (depending on how much you like mustard) and a tablespoon and a half of lemon juice. Then, salt and black pepper (eye ball – I taste afterwards to see if I need more) and then get a small whisk or fork and hold it in your dominant hand. Start whisking the mixture while adding your olive oil. Whisking while adding it helps emulsify it. I use a liberal amount. Again, it depends on how many people you are feeding and please don’t be afraid to taste as you go. On a plate, put your lettuce and then drizzle over the dressing.

You do not want to soak the lettuce, you just want to coat it and make sure there’s sufficient flavor. You will pick up some vinaigrette with the fish as you eat this meal and it works perfectly with the seasoned panko. Place a filet on top of the salads and clean off the plate from any dressing or oil drippings from the fish as you plated it.

Eat this while it’s still warm. The fish will be perfectly flaky on the inside, and on the outside it will be crunchy and full of flavor. The lettuce will be soft and bitesized with that fresh vinaigrette.

I can’t think of anything I don’t love about this meal. And the enjoyment is significantly improved each time I remember to go slowly and not end up with egg on the floor. Good luck, everyone!

Table setting for this dish: Gold chargers and napkin rings from Pier 1. Napkins from Wayfair. Bone china plates are from Lennox.

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