How to cook healthy crispy fish and not have a stinky house

Perfectly healthy crispy fish.

One of my goals for the new year was to eat fish once a week. However, in January I pan fried a beautiful piece of halibut and after enjoying a fantastic meal, we proceeded to smell said fish for days. Days. So gross. Since then, I’ve found myself skittish to prepare fish too often.

But after a little Google sleuthing and a great basic recipe from Cooking Light, I’ve figured out how to enjoy the crispy fish I love without lingering odors.

Mostly, keeping the air fish-free involves some no-duh ideas like running the stove’s exhaust fan on full blast, opening windows for ventilation while cooking, and making sure to throw away fishy wrappers immediately. What also helps? Boiling a cup of white vinegar during the cooking process to neutralize odors. In addition to vinegar, I also keep a saucer of baking soda nearby my frying pan to absorb the smell. Coupled with copious cleaning of fish cooking implements, the stove top and any surfaces that might get splattered with grease (think the hood, counter tops, cupboards nearby), I’ve successfully cooked fish three times now without trouble. It also helps that my latest favorite recipe involves using just a smidgeon of oil as you’ll see below.

Fish recipe adapted from Cooking Light.

N.S.F.D. *

Healthy crispy fish with garlic lemon basil sauce

– 2-4 white fish fillets (cod or halibut)
– 1/2 cup Panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
– 2 egg whites, lightly beaten
– 2-3 tablespoons canola oil
– Salt, pepper, cayenne, garlic powder
– 1 tablespoon olive oil
– 2 teaspoons butter, divided
– 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
– 1 cup white wine
– Zest and juice of one lemon
– 2 teaspoons cornstarch
– 1/2 cup basil leaves, torn
– 1/2-3/4 cup tomato, chopped

1. Preheat oven to 450, warm an oven-safe frying pan to medium-high heat
2. Place egg whites and panko in separate shallow dishes.
3. Season panko with salt, pepper, cayenne and garlic powder (or whatever sounds good to you)
4. Dip fish fillets into egg whites, sprinkle with salt, and then dredge in panko
5. Add oil to frying pan and then the fish
6. Cook on one side for 2-3 minutes until the fish is browned and very crispy
7. Flip the fillets and put the frying pan in the oven
8. Bake for 7 minutes or until done
9. While the fish is in the oven, warm a small sauce pan over low/medium heat
10. Warm the olive oil and one teaspoon butter until melted
11. Saute the garlic for a minute until fragrant, NOT letting it brown
12. Add wine and lemon zest, let bubble
13. Simmer until sauce reduces a bit; Add a cornstarch “slurry” (cornstarch mixed with a bit of water) to thicken
14. Just before serving add lemon juice, basil, tomato and remaining teaspoon butter
15. Serve with fish and enjoy


  • I’ve tried regular bread crumbs and panko. Panko definitely gives a better crunch, but both will work
  • To avoid making the crust mushy, serve the sauce on the side
  • Since the fish will cook in no time at all, prep sides and veggies in advance.

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