Ever since Wild Alaska Seafood ran a cool cooking competition called Swap Meat — challenging chefs to use surf instead of turf in classic recipes — I've been playing with this fun way to get more fish onto my weekly meal plan. So far, the biggest hit is a fish-n-chips my family's gotten hooked on. This quick-to-make dish involves a short list of ingredients, including one that turns up the volume on the crunchy coating.

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Photo by Leslie Kelly

As much as I love pork tonkatsu, it's not something I've ever tried making because I have my go-to pork tenderloin preparation. Plus, breaded and fried pork feels a little heavy for dinner. I'm not going to make the argument that fried fish is healthy, but it's healthier than fried pork. And, I wanted an excuse to make fries using my new crinkle cutter. So, I grabbed some true cod and a few Yukon golds at the supermarket on my way home from work.

The katsu recipe I used called for Panko, the Japanese breadcrumbs that are made with white bread that's coarsely ground and dried -- not toasted -- in the oven. Yes, you can make your own homemade panko, but this ingredient has gone from obscure to ever present the past few years. The process followed for breading katsu is similar to most breaded and fried foods: dip in beaten eggs, followed by seasoned flour and finally the panko, taking care to press breadcrumbs into every bit of the fish. That helps avoid hot oil popping when the coated fillets hit the 350-degree oil.

Overcome Your Fear of Frying Fish

Lots of people have a fear of frying, but it's really not a big deal if you follow a few steps:

  • If using a pan with a handle, make sure it's pointed away from the area where your arm might accidentally hit it.
  • Keep hot pads handy.
  • Don't walk away from frying food.
  • When placing breaded fish in the pan of hot oil, gently lay it down. Don't drop it from on high.
  • Drain fried food on crumpled paper towels. After a minute, gently dab off any excess oil.

My first attempt at katsu cod turned out so well, the crispy coating enveloping the flaky, mild white fish. During summer, fresh-caught cod from Alaska is a real deal, so my hubby and I have been eating fried fish on the regular for around $3 a serving.

And those crinkle cut fries? Not bad, but I think I need a few more test runs before throwing a French fry victory party.

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