"This is the BEST chicken you've EVER made!"
Although it was actually FISH, point well made. It was also the first item EVERYONE grabbed off their plates. Many child care centers and providers do not serve fish. I think it is super important to serve a vast variety of foods and flavors at these young ages to encourage children to have a well-rounded taste palate for life.
|Pineapple juice around his mouth. Not snot. Promise.|
1 C Pulverized chicken stuffing mix
2/3 C Panko bread crumbs
1/3 C Parmesan cheese
I buy Swai fillets when on sale. Usually 20 pounds at a time. I always ask for the grocery store person to pack mine fresh from the freezer to ensure that they are FROZEN SOLID. The ones that have been sitting out in the case have begun to thaw, and it's not good to re-freeze food of any kind once thawed. So I do my best to get them as the last item before leaving the grocery store and make sure that they go directly from the grocery freezer into mine. Since they are individually frozen, they don't really stick together and it's easy to pull out the 3-4 fillets I need at a time.
Set the deep fryer to 350 degrees and allow to thoroughly heat. I only use canola oil, which is a healthy oil. Since my child care menu is very low-fat overall, it is good to punch it up with some healthy fat and/or omega-3s a few times each month.
I microwave the frozen fillets on my REHEAT setting, which seems to perfectly defrost them. You can also defrost in the fridge or use the defrost setting on your microwave. Depending on the microwave, about 3 minutes. The edges should just be beginning to turn white, and the middle should be pliable when pressed down with a fork.
I cut each fillet into 4 portions. If using chicken, use tenders, or cut breasts into one inch strips.
I pulverize the stuffing mix in my Magic Bullet. You could also use a blender, food processor, or just bang the heck out of it with a meat mallet in a sandwich bag.
Swai is a firm white fish, so it holds up well to frying and handling. I use a fork to dredge it. I do not wet coat my fish or chicken. I find that I don't need to do so, the meat is moist enough to hold the coating. If some spots don't seem to not be covering well enough, I press the coating into those areas with the fork.
The mix is more than I can use in a single meal, so I keep it in a separate container and just keep adding to my coating container as needed. Any left over in the coating container will be thrown out, but the extra mix that didn't have fish dredged in it can go into the fridge, sealed, for another meal. Since it has the parmesan in it, it will need to be refrigerated.
I can get about one full fillet at a time into my basket making a single layer. I know that with this much fish, it takes EXACTLY 3 minutes to cook. If you cram more into your frier, then it may take a little longer.
To make sure there is no cross-contamination, I set it up like this, always keeping my raw and cooked utensils and platters completely separated.
The fish, or chicken, comes out wonderfully crisp on the outside and moist and flaky on the inside. The taste is AMAZING!
The stuffing mix and parmesan are both fairly salty, so I add the panko crumbs to help off-set that and do not add any other seasoning. It is very flavorful and doesn't NEED anything else. However, if not making exclusively for children, I think adding some lemon pepper or cajun seasoning would give it a different kick.
I also make a tarter sauce to go with the fish...as I was duly reminded by one of the children after serving today. They were impatient for it and I had no time for pictures until they were done. So you get the sloppy leftovers pic.
1/3 C Mayo
1 T Dill relish
1 t Lemon juice
1/4 t Dill weed
1/4 t Onion powder
This is definitely a 30 minute, or less, meal.
3 minutes to defrost, start frier and make coating at same time
3 minutes per fillet, I use about 1/2 fillet per child, prep next fillet during cooking time
Tags: recipes, 30 minute meals, fish, chicken, coating, fried, frying, dredge, tarter sauce, child care, daycare, preschool, easy, quick, healthy, Swai, fish fry