Baked fish with a crispy, flavorful crumb topping is a satisfying and delicious meal. But could it be convenient, too? We wanted a recipe that would deliver fish with a crunchy crumb topping that actually stuck to the fish, and we wanted to be able to make it up to a day in advance. Keeping these lofty goals in mind, we began from the top: the breading. Toasting panko bread crumbs on the stovetop with melted butter ensured the crunchiest texture; even a day later, the toasted topping was crispy. Since we already had the skillet out to toast the panko, we decided to add aromatics to the skillet to bump up the breading’s flavor. To get it to stick to the fillets, we spread a mixture of mayonnaise, egg yolk, and lemon zest on top of the fish fillets before pressing on the crumbs, which boosted flavor as well as sticking power. Halibut and haddock are good substitutes for the cod.
- Yield: 4 Servings
- Total Time: 2 Hours 25 Minutes
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 large shallot, minced
- Salt and pepper
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme or ¼ teaspoon dried
- ¾ cup panko bread crumbs
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 1 large egg yolk
- ½ teaspoon grated lemon zest
- 4 (6-to 8-ounce) skinless cod fillets, 1 to 1¼ inches thick
- Melt butter in 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add shallot and ½ teaspoon salt and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in garlic and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add panko and ¼ teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring constantly, until evenly browned, about 4 minutes. Transfer panko mixture to shallow dish and let cool for 10 minutes. Stir in parsley.
- Whisk mayonnaise, egg yolk, lemon zest, and ¼ teaspoon pepper together in bowl. Pat cod dry with paper towels. Brush tops of fillets evenly with mayonnaise mixture. Working with 1 fillet at a time, dredge coated side in panko mixture, pressing gently to adhere. Place fillets, crumb side up, on large plate. Cover and refrigerate cod for at least 1 hour.
- Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees. Set wire rack in rimmed baking sheet and spray with vegetable oil spray. Transfer cod to prepared rack and bake until fish flakes apart when gently prodded with paring knife and registers 140 degrees, 45 to 55 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through baking. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.