This recipe for healthy fish sticks looks more complicated than it is but the extra steps really pay off.
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The ingredients are easy to come by, the big star is found at Trader Joe’s but could be replaced with pressed tofu if needed.
Fish is often polluted with microplastics and heavy metals making most (if not all) fish very unhealthy to consume. And let’s not even talk about the environmental and sustainability impact. Check out Seaspiracy on Netflix for more information on that.
I want to thank Thee Burger Dude for inspiration for this recipe. It gave me the idea to experiment with fish sticks to begin with. I found him when I was looking for ways to make a vegan version of sunny side up eggs. Quite remarkable the way Thee Burger Dude makes those and many other vegan guilty pleasures… do not lead me into temptation…
One of my favorite meals growing up was “Fischstäbchen mit Rahmspinat, Spiegelei und Kartoffeln” which basically is “fish sticks with creamed spinach, sunny side up eggs and potatoes”. That flavor combination REALLY takes me back to my mother’s kitchen, sitting and waiting for the meal to be finally done. I love how food can act as a time machine. Close your eyes, smell the aroma, taste the flavor, feel the moment. There really is a reason we call it comfort food.
Food is love!
The main ingredient- super star from trader joe’s
Our main ingredient is a relatively new item that they now have at Trader Joe’s. I didn’t even see it until a vegan friend (who works at Trader Joe’s) pointed it out to me. It is great for vegan fish tacos as well. To be honest, the package looks a little unappealing and I had it in my freezer for a while until I came up with my recipe.
It’s called “battered plant-based fish fillets” and it’s even gluten free. These are pretty yummy as is but I make them extra scrumptious with my method in this recipe. A whole other level!
I use these vegan fish fillets from Trader Joe’s to make these delicious fish sticks. If you don’t have access to this, you can use firm tofu. Check out Thee Vegan Dude’s recipe on how he makes battered fish. He makes fish burgers but you can use his recipe to make fish sticks.
Trader Joe’s fish fillet ingredient list
JACKFRUIT, KING OYSTER MUSHROOMS, WATER, POTATOES, MODIFIED CORNSTARCH, TOFU SHEETS (WATER, SOYBEANS), SOYBEAN OIL, RICE FLOUR, CHICKPEAS, CONTAINS 2% OR LESS OF CORNSTARCH, YEAST EXTRACT, POTATO STARCH, BAMBOO FIBER, MODIFIED POTATO STARCH, CHICKPEA FLOUR, TAPIOCA STARCH, SOY PROTEIN CONCENTRATE, STABILIZERS (METHYL CELLULOSE, CARBOXYMETHYLCELLULOSE), NATURAL FLAVORS, SALT, RICE STARCH, SOY PROTEIN ISOLATE, WHITE PEPPER, LEAVENING (SODIUM ACID PYROPHOSPHATE, SODIUM BICARBONATE, BAKING POWDER [SODIUM BICARBONATE, SODIUM ACID PYROPHOSPHATE, TAPIOCA STARCH, CALCIUM PHOSPHATE]), CITRUS FIBER (DRIED ORANGE PULP, XANTHAN GUM), ONION POWDER, SUNFLOWER OIL, GUAR GUM, COLOR ADDED (TURMERIC OLEORESIN, BETA CAROTENE), GARLIC POWDER, BLACK PEPPER, CITRIC ACID (ACIDULANT).
- CONTAINS SOY.
- MAY CONTAIN SESAME.
Preparing the fish sticks can take a bit extra time but it is well worth it. Not only because it is a fun childhood dish that will spark some nostalgia but also because it is an easy meal for even the young ones to enjoy. It is up to you to pair it with spinach and boiled potatoes for a more wholesome meal or to make it a guilty pleasure and eat it with fries (Trader Joe’s handsome cuts, for example) for a version of vegan fish and chips with vegan tartar sauce. This is definitively a vegan comfort food, one of many kid friendly vegan recipes.
To make these fish sticks the healthiest possible I would bake or air fry them. Shallow frying in a pan with some olive oil might still be ok (especially if you let them drip on a paper towel). Deep frying on the other hand… definitively takes us out of the category “healthy”.
For a shortcut to yummy vegan creamed spinach you can use precut, frozen spinach. I use fresh spinach but both would work. I also add some vegetable bouillon for extra flavor. This is not available at Trader Joe’s. I buy that on Amazon, check here. As an alternative you can use the onion salt from Trader Joe’s along with finely cut / blended celery or even celery powder. For the “creamy factor” I use unsweetened / unflavored soy milk. I prefer the simple, shelf stable one from Trader Joe’s as it has only organic, non-GMO edamame beans and water as ingredients.
As a child we had “Petersielienkartoffeln”, basically “boiled parsley potatoes” with this meal. You peel the potatoes, boil them until soft, drain the water, add a small amount of vegan butter (I like the one from Trader Joe’s or Miyoko’s European butter).
As mentioned, my childhood memory of this classic German dish includes sunny side up eggs. I did find this incredible version of vegan sunny side up eggs by Thee Burger Dude, however, I have (not yet) attempted to make this. Instead I made my trusty vegan scrambled tofu to get the flavor profile of eggs without all the extra work. Just for fun and nostalgia I might try and make Thee Burger Dude’s version one day!
In summary, you can mix and match with this recipe. Have fun and enjoy building food memories for your family!
Delicious Healthy Fish Sticks (Vegan)
- 2 packs battered plant-based fish fillets from Trader Joe's (it's GF)
- 8 tablespoons olive oil, extra virgin, cold pressed if shallow frying
For The Batter – Step 1 (Dry)
- ½ cup flour use GF, if needed
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon vegetable bouillon powder (dry) alternatively use: onion salt and celery powder, see below
- 1 teaspoon onion salt from Trader Joe's if you don't have vegetable bouillon
- 1 teaspoon celery powder if you don't have vegetable bouillon
- 1 teaspoon mushroom umami powder from Trader Joe's optional, if you don't have vegetable bouillon
For The Batter – Step 2 (Wet)
- 1⅓ cups plant based milk, unsweetened I use Trader Joe's soy milk
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons kala namak, black salt
- 4 tablespoons flour use GF, if needed
For The Batter – Step 2 (Dry)
- 1 cup bread crumps use GF, if needed
- 5 tablespoons nutritional yeast
Prepare The "Fish"
- Take the "fish" fillets out of the freezer and let thaw for 5 – 10 minutes while you prepare the batter.
- Once your batter station is ready to go, cut the fillets into 4 fish sticks, cut the fillets in half both ways.
Prepare The "Batter Station" – Step 1 (Dry)
- In a soup plate, shallow bowl or small baking pan mix the flower, baking powder, onion powder, garlic powder and vegetable bouillon powder. If you don't have dry vegetable bouillon powder you can use all of these three or just one of these, or none of these: onion salt and mushroom umami powder, both from Trader Joe's, and celery powder.Mix well until we have an even distribution of all ingredients.
Prepare The "Batter Station" – Step 2 (Wet)
- In a large shallow bowl or small baking pan mix the plant-based milk with the apple cider vinegar. Swirl gently, this will form curds and become thick. This is expected. If you don't have apple cider vinegar you can use white vinegar or lemon juice (of 1 lemon if using fresh) instead.
- Add the kala namak black salt and whisk in the flour until the mass is smooth and thick.
Prepare The "Batter Station" – Step 3 (Dry)
- In a soup plate, shallow bowl or small baking pan mix the bread crumbs with the nutritional yeast.
Battering The "Fish"
- Make sure your "batter stations" are set up in front of you from left to right.
- Take each "fish" stick one at a time.
- Start in station 1: Coat the "fish" stick well with the flour mixture from both sides.
- Proceed to station 2: Put the coated fish stick in the wet mixture and coat it well with it. You may have to turn it around or use a large spoon to pour batter over the "fish" stick until it is fully covered.
- Finish in station 3: Hold the coated "fish" stick above the wet mixture for a few seconds (with 2 forks) to let some of the batter drip down then put it into the third station. Cover it fully with bread crumbs from both sides (either by turning it or by using a large spoon to cover it fully).
- Repeat this with all "fish" sticks, put them on a lined baking sheet if planning to air fry / bake or on a plate waiting to be (shallow) fried.
- If you plan to bake / air fry, start preheating the oven now. Prepare a large baking pan with a baking sheet. All sticks should fit on one sheet. If you want to use a little bit of olive oil to drizzle over each stick you may do this now, otherwise omit it.
- For frying: These do not all fit in the pan at the same time, depending on the size of your pan you may have to do this in 2-3 rounds. Use a small amount of olive oil (2-4 tablespoons) to heat it up lightly, then fry these on medium heat. Keep a close eye on them. Turn them around after about 5 minutes and fry for another 5 minutes. They should be golden brown but not burned. Depending on your range your time will likely vary.
- Once they are done let them cool off a bit:After baking / air frying: Consider having them cool off on a rack / grid.After frying: Let them cool off on paper towel. The paper towel will suck up some of the oil.
- Enjoy with boiled potatoes and creamed spinach for a wholesome meal or make some fries with it for tempting vegan fish and chips version.
- Option 1: Press the tofu to let liquid out. Cut in sticks and proceed with the steps above
- Option 2: Freeze and thaw the tofu and follow Thee Burger Dude’s instructions on how to do a “fishy” marinate and then come back for the above steps after that.