Babysitter food. That’s what we called the frozen entrees my mom would pull from the freezer on nights she and my dad were heading out on the town. Any other evening of the year she made good-quality, lovingly prepared, homemade food, but on date nights, supper meant a rotating selection of TV dinners, corn dogs, and fish sticks. We loved it.
The one holdover into my own house is the fish sticks, largely because they’re darn tasty and you can find some pretty decent options these days. Just last week, as I scrambled to pull the kids’ meal together before readying myself for an evening with grown ups, I made these darling fish sliders. The idea started with the little sesame seed buns picked up at Trader Joes. They’re so cute, I couldn’t resist, and I figured my kids would gobble down anything I put between them. (Yes, I sometimes buy food because it’s cute, just as I sometimes buy wine because it’s pretty).
I opted for fish fillets over fish sticks because you get a greater ratio of fish to breadcrumbs. Translation: more fish means more protein and other nutrients that go along with it. Consider buying the fish in an organic market or specialty one since the choices tend to be lighter in additives and preservatives than conventional supermarket brands.
Once you’ve lined up your fish and buns, along with enough shredded cabbage to add crunch, all that needs doing is a quick tartar sauce. Mine was inspired by my 6th grade friend, Mini, who taught me to make tartar sauce in her suburban kitchen one summer afternoon. It went something like this: mix equal parts mayonnaise, ketchup, and yellow mustard. Stir.
I was pretty impressed at the time, though find the recipe lacking for my tastes today. I did include Mini’s three core ingredients, embellished with non-fat Greek yogurt for most of the creaminess, which makes it far lower in fat than a typical tartar. Sweet pickle relish and a spoonful of capers add flavor and punch.
A pair of these sliders (or just one for littler appetites) along with a vegetable or salad (or both) is all you need for a simple weeknight supper. Once the fish is in the oven, it takes all of 15 minutes to pull this meal together, qualifying it as a “15 Minute Fix.” You can find other speedy recipes like this one by clicking here and scrolling down to where it says, “15 Minutes Meals.”
When the sandwiches were assembled and ready, I swiped a bite before the kids showed up at the table. They were good, really good, certainly better than a TV dinner, or corn dog, or ordinary fish stick. Yes, I was looking forward to my evening out, but I also would have been perfectly happy sitting down with my kids to a couple of fish sliders.
I think we’ll be having these again soon.
This makes eight little sliders, enough to feed a family of four. Keep in mind, though, that younger kids may only need one slider. For bigger appetites, consider baking an extra fillet and heavy up on the amount of fish on each bun.
• 4 large, breaded frozen fish fillets (about 12 ounces)
• 1/3 cup non-fat Greek-style yogurt
• 2 tablespoons light mayonnaise
• 1 tablespoon capers, chopped
• 1 1/2 teaspoons sweet pickle relish
• 1 teaspoon ketchup
• 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
• 8 slider buns, whole wheat is ideal
• 1 cup shredded cabbage
Preheat oven according to the directions on the package of fish. When the oven is ready, put the fish fillets on a baking tray and bake according to package directions until crispy and golden brown.
While the fish is baking, make the tartar sauce. Put the yogurt, mayonnaise, capers, relish, ketchup, and mustard in a small bowl and mix until creamy.
About 2 minutes before the fish is done, put the slider buns in the oven to warm. You don’t want the buns crispy, just soft and warm.
Remove fish and buns when the fish is done.
Cut each fish fillet crosswise in half, making 8 pieces of fish. Set each half on the bottom of the slider buns. Slather the top buns generously with tartar sauce. Scoop up a bundle of cabbage and press into the sauce. Sandwich the buns together with the fish inside.
Makes 4 servings; figure 2 sliders per serving.