The crispiest, crunchiest Fried Fish Sandwich! With Spicy Tartar Sauce! YUM!
Once I went to McDonald’s with work friends. I ordered and in the process, shocked my co-workers. A Filet O’ Fish?!?! Apparently, they had never seen someone order one before.
Meanwhile, my Korean American world was populated with people who ordered this sandwich exclusively. Parents, grandparents, and numerous Ajummas and Ajushis (aunties and uncles) all loved this sandwich. But I have to say, even my Korean American friends loved it as much as I did.
Crispy, flaky fish. Tangy tartar sauce. That shiny soft bun. Mmmm!
That’s the inspiration behind this Fried Fish Sandwich. For when a burger feels too heavy and greasy. But you still want something tasty. And crispy and crunchy! And fresh and tangy!
What kind of fish should I use?
Any kind of white fish works. I like thin filets because they fry up with crispier edges. But my husband prefers a bigger, meatier chunk of fish. So choose the fish that you like best and that’s most accessible to you.
My preference for this Fried Fish Sandwich is tilapia. They are readily available at most grocery stores, affordable, and fry up quickly. But in the past, I’ve also used cod, basa, and snapper. They all taste great.
Potato Starch vs Regular Flour
For dredging, I prefer Potato Starch over regular flour. It produces the crispiest, crunchiest coating ever.
Science tells us that Potato Starch contains a high amylose content. When dropped into hot oil, potato starch molecules lock into place and create that brittle, crunchy, crispy texture!
Look for Potato Starch at your local Asian grocer. Corn Starch is an acceptable substitute. Regular flour also works, but it won’t be as crispy.
Other Ingredients for Fried Fish Sandwiches:
Panko. Panko is a Japanese bread crumb. Lighter + crispier than regular bread crumbs, it’s a staple in my Korean American kitchen.
Spicy Tartar Sauce. Tartar Sauce is a MUST for Fried Fish Sandwiches. Making it spicy makes this sandwich extra special.
Cabbage. Thinly shredded cabbage is the perfect topping. Adds texture and freshness! Shred your own or buy pre-shredded cabbage to make it even easier.
Soft Buns. I’ve used fancy brioche buns and regular, grocery store buns. They all taste great. Make sure to butter and toast the bread for extra flavor.
Do I really need to deep fry the fish?
You can certainly pan fry the breaded fish with just a little bit of oil. But deep frying makes for a much crispier, crunchier texture!
To make deep frying at home easier, set up a deep frying station with the following items:
Cast Iron Dutch Oven. Cast iron conducts heat well. The ideal material for deep frying, it’s great for keeping a constant and steady oil temperature. The high walls of a Cast Iron Dutch Oven also prevents oil splatter (vs a cast iron skillet).
Candy Thermometer. I clip a candy thermometer to the side of the Dutch Oven. Although you can certainly deep fry without a thermometer, it’s so much easier with this tool. Thermometers are very helpful for determining oil temperature, which tends to fluctuate. Frying at the right temperature ensures crispy, non-greasy fried food. You won’t regret purchasing this $10 cooking tool!
Cooling Rack + Sheet Pan. After fish is deep fried, transfer to a cooling rack arranged over a sheet pan. The air will circulate under and around the fish, keeping things optimally crispy and crunchy.
Stainless Steel Spider Strainer. The ideal tool for removing fried food from hot oil. The oil will drain right back into the pot. Tongs also work but sometimes the breading can slip off when grabbing too forcefully.
Cooking Oil. For deep frying, use an oil with a high smoke point. Peanut oil works best, if you don’t have peanut allergies. Otherwise, I suggest grapeseed oil, vegetable or canola oil, and even avocado oil.
You will also need enough oil so the fish floats while frying. That’s about 1-2 inches of oil.
Also, I reuse my cooking oil. To store, wait until the oil cools. Then pour through a strainer into an old glass jar. The next time you want to deep fry, reuse this oil. If you’re squeamish about re-using oil, remember — restaurants also reuse frying oil!
Double up fish filets for big eaters. Sometimes, one fish filet is not enough. For big eaters, feel free to double the fish filets, as pictured.
Leftover fish can be reheated in an Air Fryer (380F for 5 minutes) or in a 400F oven until crispy!
Assemble Fried Fish Sandwiches right before serving. Everything can be prepped ahead of time. But it’s best to assemble right before serving to prevent any king of soggyness.
What can I serve with Fried Fish Sandwiches?
There are so many options to serve alongside these crispy Fried Fish Sandwiches. My favorites:
How to Make Fried Fish Sandwiches:
Season fish fillets with Cajun seasoning.
Dredge fish. First, coat in potato starch. Then dip into egg wash. Finally, panko!
Deep fry fish at 350F, until crispy and cooked through.
Fried Fish Sandwich
- Cast Iron Dutch Oven
- Cooling rack
- sheet pan
- 4 white fish filets (any kind works but tilapia is pictured)
- 4 Tbsp Cajun seasoning (1 Tbsp for each fish filet)
- 2 eggs (large), beaten well
- 1/2 cup potato starch
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs (plus a little bit more for the last fish filet)
- 1 1/2 cups green cabbage, finely shredded
- 4 buns
- 4 Tbsp softened (room temperature) butter
Spicy Tartar Sauce
- 1/2 cup mayo (I use Kewpie)
- 2 Tbsp capers, drained and chopped
- 1/2 shallot, chopped (about 2 Tbsp)
- 2 tsp sriracha (or more, if you like things spicier)
- Make spicy tartar sauce: place all ingredients in a small bowl and mix well with a spoon. Set aside.
- Finely shred cabbage. Set aside.
- Sprinkle Cajun seasoning over the fish filets, making sure to coat both sides. Rub about 1 Tbsp per fish filet.
- Set up dredging station: one bowl for potato starch, one bowl for beaten eggs, one bowl for panko bread crumbs. Coat seasoned fish with potato starch, then dip into egg wash, and finally coat with panko bread crumbs. Press the panko into the fish. Set aside on a separate plate as you finish.
- In a cast iron Dutch oven, attach a candy thermometer and 1-2 inches of oil. (I use grapeseed oil but peanut, vegetable, or canola oil all work well). Heat on medium heat and wait for thermometer to reach 350F.
- When the thermometer reaches 350F, carefully add fish filets. Make sure not to overcrowd the pan. Deep fry in batches until crispy and cooked through, about 2-3 minutes for each fish filet. Transfer to a cooling rack arranged over a sheet pan, to keep the fish crispy.
- Meanwhile, butter and toast the buns. (I use a cast iron grill pan. While the fish cooks, I spread a thin layer of softened butter on the inside of the buns. Then I toast on the grill pan, turning to toast evenly).
- Assemble the sandwiches. Add spicy tartar sauce to the bottom bun. Add fried fish, then a handful of shredded cabbage. Dollop more spicy tartar sauce to the top bun and place on top. Repeat for all sandwiches. Enjoy immediately!