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(Healthier!) Fried Fish Sandwiches with Avocado, Tomatoes & Tarragon Mayo (Gluten Free Option)

These lightened-up pan-fried fish sandwiches feature crispy white fish, juicy tomato slices, slivers of avocado, crunchy lettuce and a generous smear of Tarragon Aioli (which is like a more elegant and stimulating version of tartar sauce). Be sure to make the aioli before beginning. The combination of the crispy fish with the creamy aioli and cool vegetables is pure heaven. Seek out fresh, firm fish filets, which will not only taste better, but will also hold up better when pan-frying. If using thin fillets of flounder or sole, cut them in half before breading and frying (pile both halves on the sandwich!).
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: fried fish sandwich recipe, fried fish sandwiches
Servings: 4 people

Equipment

  • Large skillet

Ingredients

Fish Sandwiches

  • ½ cup fine cornmeal or corn flour
  • 2 eggs, whisked
  • 1 cup regular or gluten-free panko breadcrumbs
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound flaky white fish fillets, such as cod, halibut, flounder or sole
  • ¼ cup neutral vegetable oil, such as grapeseed or safflower

For serving

  • Tarragon Aioli (recipe link in header)
  • Buns (regular or gluten-free)
  • Tomato slices
  • Avocado slices
  • Red or green lettuce leaves

Instructions

  • Set up a “dredging station.” Place the cornmeal, whisked eggs and panko breadcrumbs in separate shallow bowls or rimmed plates. Season each with salt and pepper.
  • Trim the fish fillets into sandwich-sized or slightly smaller pieces, if needed. Season each with salt and pepper.
  • Dredge the trimmed fish filets in the cornmeal (on both sides), followed by the whisked eggs, followed by the breadcrumbs. Place the breaded filets on a wax- or parchment-lined baking sheet while you heat up your skillet.
  • Heat the oil in a large, heavy cast iron or nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering (add a pinch of breadcrumbs to test the oil—they should immediately start to sizzle). Working in batches, fry the fish for about 1-3 minutes per side (depending on the thickness of the fish), or until golden brown on both sides and cooked through (keep your eye on the heat—if the fish is browning too quickly trust your instincts and turn it down). Transfer the fish to wire rack and season with salt.
  • Spread some of the Tarragon Aioli on 4 buns (I like to spread a thick layer on the bottom bun, and a lighter smear on the top bun). Arrange the fried fish on each bun, followed by a tomato slice, a few avocado slices and a leaf or two of lettuce. Crown the sandwiches off with the top buns, then devour.

Notes

Tips:
  • Any flaky white fish will work in this recipe, such as cod, flounder or sole. You could also go for halibut, which is a bit heartier. Seek out fresh, firm filets, which will not only taste better, but will also hold up better when pan-frying.   
  • I love the subtly sweet flavor of fine cornmeal (or corn flour) in the breading, but you can use regular (or gluten free) all-purpose flour instead. 
  • I use these gluten free panko breadcrumbs, but any brand will work.
  • Pan-frying the fish in a cast-iron or non-stick skillet helps prevent it from sticking. 
  • A thin fish spatula makes it easy to flip the fillets while they’re cooking. 
  • Serve the sandwiches with Oven Roasted French Fries and a Simple Green Salad for the ultimate dinner!