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Quarantine Kitchen: Spicy fish and slaw sandwiches

BY JeanMarie Brownson
Associated Press 

Spring break is upon us, but a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, we know that it will not — should not — look like it has in years past. But we need bright spots and sunshine now more than ever. So this spring, we’ll travel by way of our imaginations — and taste buds.

Let’s picture spring breaks of warm weather, beach and sand that are peppered with memories of delicious meals.

One of the best parts of vacation, beyond relaxing, sightseeing and swimming, is eating outdoors, on a porch, sea breeze blowing through your hair. While you may not get that salty ocean air in your kitchen, you can still recreate those beachy vibes at home with a seafood shack classic: The spicy fish sandwich.

To cook this at home, start by looking for fish options in the local market’s freezer case. The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch app can help you select fish that has been caught (or farmed and harvested) sustainably. Choose from haddock or scrod, U.S. tilapia, Pacific cod or U.S farmed bass. After thawing in the refrigerator, season the fillets with a spicy rub and then broil to golden and tender before tucking into a toasted bun with a pile of spicy slaw.

Sweet potato fries make the perfect accompaniment to spicy fish sandwiches. For oven fries, simply peel large sweet potatoes, slice them 1/2-inch thick and then cut the slices into 1/4-inch wide sticks. Put on a baking sheet with a nice coating of sunflower or safflower oil and a sprinkle of salt. Bake at 375 degrees on convection, stirring often, until crispy, about 20 minutes. A sprinkle of the seafood seasoning that follows perks them up into a worthy side.


Ready in 30 minutes 

  • 20 minutes (prepare time) + 10 minutes (cook time) 
  • 4 servings 

Notes: Add a slice of crispy bacon, or ripe tomato, to these spicy fish sandwiches, if desired. You can cook fish on a medium hot grill if desired.

Instead of burger buns you could also use 8 one-inch thick slices of brioche or challah 

  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika 
  • 1 teaspoon salt 
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder 
  • 1/4 teaspoon thyme 
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 
  • 1/3 teaspoon cayenne 
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice 
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise, plus more for buns 
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice 
  • 2 1/2 to 3 cups finely shredded cabbage (half of a 14-ounce bag) 
  • 1 large carrot, trimmed, peeled, finely shaved or shredded 
  • 2 green onions, trimmed, thinly sliced 
  • 4 haddock, tilapia or cod fillets, each at least 1-inch thick (about 1 1/2 pounds total) 
  • 4 brioche or whole grain burger buns, split 
  • Favorite spicy barbecue sauce 
  • Olive oil 

Step 1: Make Seafood rub: In a small dish, mix 1 tablespoon sweet paprika, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/4 teaspoon each: Thyme, freshly ground black pepper and cayenne and 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice. The seafood rub can be made ahead and stored in a covered container up to several weeks.

Step 2: In the bottom of a medium-size bowl, mix together 1 teaspoon of the seafood rub with 1/3 cup mayonnaise and 1 tablespoon lime juice. Stir in 2  1/2 to 3 cups finely shredded cabbage, The finely shaved carrot and two thinly sliced green onions. Use immediately or refrigerate, covered, up to two days. Serve at room temperature.

Step 3: Pat fish dry. Sprinkle generously on all sides with the remaining seafood rub. Place on the perforated top of a broiler pan or on an ovenproof rack set over a foil-lined baking sheet. If desired, let stand at room temperature about 30 minutes or refrigerate, loosely covered, for several hours.

Step 4: When ready to serve, remove coleslaw from the refrigerator. Toast the four split burger buns. Spread the bottoms of the buns with a thin coating of barbecue sauce. If desired, spread tops of buns or other 4 slices of bread with a thin coating of mayonnaise. Place on serving plates.

Step 5: Preheat broiler to high. Drizzle a little olive oil over each fish fillet. Broil, six inches from heat source, without turning, until fish almost flakes easily in the thickest portion, five to seven minutes.

Step 6: Carefully transfer one piece of fish to each of the bottom buns. Top with a mound of coleslaw and position the top bun in place. Serve right away.