Photo by Jessica Leibowitz
I love crunch in a recipe and particularly when the star of the dish is soft and bland like most white fish. Bread crumbs are usually the crunch we reach for, but why not consider a cracker, particularly one that is presalted, like a saltine. This dish is perfect with a squeeze of lemon but you could dress it up a bit by melting a few tablespoons of butter in a saucepan and then cooking the butter until it turns light brown. A drizzle of the nutty browned butter on top of each portion is a lovely final touch.
Makes 4 servings
Hands-on time: 15 minutes
Total preparation time: 30 minutes
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil plus extra for oiling the baking dish
24 saltine crackers
2 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves or 1/2 teaspoon dried
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
Four 6-ounce boneless skinless catfish or tilapia fillets
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Lemon wedges for garnish
Preheat the oven to 400º F and lightly oil a shallow baking dish large enough to hold the four fish fillets. Pulse the saltines in a food processor or blender or crush them in a zippered plastic bag until they become coarse crumbs (about 1 cup). Transfer to a pie plate or a medium shallow bowl.
Mince the garlic (about 2 teaspoons) and add it to the crackers. Finely chop the oregano (about 1 ½ teaspoons) and add it to the pie plate along with the ¼ cup oil and the lemon zest. Mix well.
Arrange the fish in one layer in the baking dish and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the crumb mixture evenly on top and bake the fish in the upper third of the oven until it is golden and just cooked through, about 10 to 12 minutes. Serve with lemon wedges.