Panko-Crusted Fish Sticks With Lime & Tarragon Aioli

May 21, 2011

Test Kitchen-Approved

Author Notes:

Tarragon and lime are a beautiful match and I like to use as a dipping sauce with homemade fish sticks. The aioli takes on a faint green hue and paired with the crunchy fish sticks it makes a delicious meal and is a change from the traditional tartar sauce. This is great finger food and takes no time at all to prepare. I like to use a garlic infused olive oil in the aioli. - sdebrango


Food52 Review: Well, she had me at "fish" and "sticks". The tarragon and lime are a new combination to me, and their aioli sends these beauties over the top. The balance of canola and olive oils is perfect, as it allows the tarragon and lime to shine through, and nothing gets in the way of satisfying crunch on a nice light fish. The roasted garlic and its infused oil are the icing on the so to speak cake. I used talapia because it was what I had, and I would be hard-pressed to imagine a fish, sticks or otherwise, with which this wouldn't be fantastic. Next time around, and there will be many of those, I think I'll grill a good sandwich roll, slather it with this lovely aioli, stuff some fish sticks inside, and call it a sandwich. Wonderful invention, sdebrango! - boulangereboulangere

Serves: 4
Prep time: 30 min
Cook time: 15 min


For the aioli

  • 2 large garlic cloves (give them a quick crush to release the flavor but don't pulverize)
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon lime zest (the zest of one whole lime)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 pinch freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup minus 2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil

For the panko-crusted fish sticks

  • 1 cup oil, plus more as needed for deep frying
  • 1 pound Firm to semi-firm fish (I use cod or sea bass)
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 1 cup panko
  • 1 pinch salt and pepper, plus more to taste
In This Recipe


For the aioli

  1. To make the garlic-infused olive oil, add the 2 peeled, lightly crushed garlic cloves to the olive oil in a small saucepan and simmer on very low heat. Be very careful not to let the garlic get brown. Turn off the flame after just a few minutes and let the garlic sit in the oil until it softens. Let cool before making the aioli. I like to make this infused oil ahead of time—sitting overnight gives a more profound garlic flavor.
  2. Add egg yolks, the cooled cooked garlic cloves, lime juice, lime zest, tarragon, salt and pepper to a blender. Blend until smooth.
  3. With blender running slowly add the vegetable oil and garlic-infused olive oil. The aioli will be thick and creamy and a lovely light green. Adjust seasoning and citrus to your taste.

For the panko-crusted fish sticks

  1. Heat your oil. I like to deep fry the fish sticks, approximately 4 inches of oil in a heavy sauté or sauce pan to 375° F. Alternately you can pan-fry the fish sticks in about an inch of oil in the skillet. I recommend seasoned cast iron or a non-stick skillet.
  2. Cut your fish into pieces, dip in egg and then in panko.
  3. Carefully drop your fish sticks into hot oil and fry until golden brown. Remove and place on paper towel-lined plate to absorb any extra oil. Add additional salt if you like directly after they come out of the oil.
  4. Serve with aioli as a dipping sauce. Enjoy!

More Great Recipes:
Condiment/Spread|American|Lime Juice|Tarragon|Seafood|Clove|Pan-Fry|Cast Iron|Entree

Reviews (44) Questions (4)

44 Reviews

AntoniaJames March 3, 2017
Lime and tarragon -- I didn't know! Looking forward to making these ASAP. Thanks so much. ;o)
Naaman H. June 24, 2015
I loved it<br />
Pauline C. June 24, 2015
I love the cole slaw with a vinaigrette idea...think fish taco without the totilla. ( Fish tacos are often topped with coleslaw and a drizzle of a chipotle mayonnaise.) I'm sure the tomato/corn salad would be great as well, but I'm leaning toward the slaw...made with red cabbage if possible.
Jenn June 24, 2015
Also, what vinaigrette would pair well with the aioli?<br />
Jenn June 24, 2015
What are some good sides that would pair well with this recipe? I was thinking a cool coleslaw with a vinaigrette and/or a fresh tomato and corn salad?
Pauline C. June 23, 2015
Goodness autocorrect has been letting me down...that's pan fry not pantry.
Pauline C. June 23, 2015
Excuse me Gail. The email said pantry...the recipe on website said deep fry. That's all the hubbub was about...relax.
Gail June 23, 2015
Doesn't anybody actually read anymore? The recipe stated very clearly that you can pan fry....
brock M. June 22, 2015
What kind of a fry pan can take 4" of cooking oil?
Pauline C. June 22, 2015
Quinoa is a berry that is treated as a grain...are you considering grinding it and then dredging your fish? Panto is an extra crispy unique bread crumb that we have borrowed from the Japanese. Today I made the fish using Panko crumbs and an eith inch of was fantastic.
Vivian V. June 22, 2015
could I use quinoa instead of Panko? Has anyone tried this method?
Lou M. June 22, 2015
Can't you just put an inch or so of good (safe) (avocado, coconut) oil in the pan then crisp it up? I don't see the need for deep-frying but if that's what you like, then, do it. It depends on your oil ... and I now only use those above and EVOO (but not for frying, ever!, except low heat sauteeing.) This recipe sounds like a dream come true for me because I love fish and crispy fresh fish is so good! I can't wait to try the aioli, too! Thank you so much! What a beautiful site!
CFrance June 22, 2015
I think what Pauline meant is that in the email sent by Food 52, the title says "It's Pan-) Fry Day". I too was disappointed by the fact that it has to be deep fried. That is a deal breaker for me.
Pauline C. June 22, 2015
Aioli looks delicious, but kind of a bait and switch to go from pan frying to deep frying in the blink of an eye!
pnadon June 22, 2015
Just found this recipe. I'll definitely be making this AIOLI tonight!
James W. March 6, 2014
lime + tarragon NEVER make an aioli: they can be used to make a flavoured mayonnaise but NEVER an aioli. Get it right
Cristina S. March 7, 2014
James, you might be right about that, but please keep in mind that Food52 works in the spirit of friendliness and learning.
JohnSkye July 11, 2013
1/4 cup (olive oil) + 2tbs = 6 tbs<br />1/2 cup (veg oil) - 2 tbs = 6 tbs<br />why not just "6 tbs" of each????
jpriddy June 22, 2015
JohnSkye, my reaction too.
Cristina S. July 24, 2012
These look so good!
I love it when recipes are a complete success! Followed the instructions to the letter using swai. Total hit out of the ballpark!!!! Wish I could post the photo I took because it looks almost as delicious as it tasted.
elissamarcuson May 14, 2012
Can these fish sticks be baked with a similar result? I love, love, love tarragon and will def try this aioli