A healthier alternative to deep-fried fish cutlets (fish croquettes), these Baked Fish Cutlets are filled with a spicy fish filling and coated with a deliciously crispy, crunchy, golden breadcrumb coating! Perfect for snacking. Plus, they are indistinguishable from deep-fried cutlets in terms of taste, texture and appearance!
One of my favorite snacks in the world is the Sri Lankan Fish Cutlet! I’ve talked a lot about it and shared the recipe for classic Sri Lankan fish cutlets on the blog here. Fish cutlets are a quintessential Sri Lankan snack, with some epic Sri Lankan flavors. It’s both a snack and comfort food rolled (literally!) into one, for me.
Classic Sri Lankan fish cutlets are deep fried. There’s no two ways about it, that’s how we always made ’em, and that’s how you get them to be addictively crunchy with that flavorful crust. BUT, I had received a number of requests from my readers asking if I could BAKE fish cutlets instead of deep-frying for a healthier way to make this tasty snack. I took it up as a challenge and wanted to find out the BEST way to make baked fish cutlets (baked fish croquettes). Several attempts later, here we are! 🙂
The difference between toasted and untoasted breadcrumbs. This is an important step for making baked fish cutlets.
When deep-fried, fish cutlets become evenly crispy, with a uniform, dark crust. The problem with traditional fish cutlets (fish croquettes) is that they lack that beautiful outer shell, plus they generally taste bland and awful.
But never again! I came up with a fool-proof way to make baked fish cutlets (or any kind of cutlet), with that same addictive, crunchy shell! Plus, they are almost indistinguishable from deep-fried cutlets in terms of taste, texture and appearance! So yes, I guarantee that these really are the BEST baked fish cutlets (baked fish croquettes) around! 🙂
What’s great about these baked fish cutlets?
- Just like deep fried cutlets, these baked fish cutlets look evenly fried. The shell is crispy and evenly browned. To achieve this, the breadcrumbs are first pan fried until they are nice and toasted, with a VERY LITTLE amount of oil.
- They are obviously a healthier alternative to deep-fried cutlets.
- They taste just as good as the fried version! If you taste this baked version and fried fish cutlets side by side (which I’ve done), there’ll be a SLIGHT difference in the crunch-factor, but it’s surprisingly minimal.
Here are some tips to make the best baked fish cutlets (baked fish croquettes)
- I find that it’s easier to shape the cutlets into a flatter shape, so that they are easier to bake (and more stable) on a baking tray. So I shaped these cutlets into flat discs rather than balls. Remember the hot tray also helps create that addictive crust/shell, so creating a larger surface area (which you get with a flatter shape) is recommended.
- Use regular breadcrumbs, NEVER use panko crumbs. It’s harder to create a smooth crust with panko, because they are larger than regular breadcrumbs. So regular breadcrumbs will give you a nice, even, smooth shell which also helps prevent cracks in the shell when they are baking.
- Use a little vegetable oil to “dry fry” the breadcrumbs. By pre-toasting the breadcrumbs, you achieve two things.
- Uniformly “fried” cutlets. No more patchy caramelization in the oven. The pre-toasted crumbs make the cutlets look like they’ve been fried.
- You add an additional crunch element. The problem with traditional baked cutlets is that the surface doesn’t become uniformly crispy. You end up with alternating crunchy and soggy patches. Pre-toasting the crumbs resolves this issue.
- Double coating will result in an even crispier coating. Double coating fish cutlets isn’t necessary. However, I ALWAYS preferred double coating (or triple coating) cutlets for a thicker and crunchier shell! You can still get great results coating your cutlets just once, but I personally like ’em more with an extra coating!
- Leftovers must be reheated. This is the only place where classic fried cutlets and my baked cutlets differ. I find that with these baked cutlets, the crust tended to be slightly staler on the following day. However, reheating them for a little bit in the oven, made them just as delicious and fresh as before!
This technique applies to ALL kinds of Sri Lankan cutlets (or croquettes). Fish cutlets, chicken cutlets, vegetarian cutlets (potato cutlets), beef cutlets, or any other kind of cutlet/croquette can be transformed into baked cutlets (baked croquettes) by following these steps!
So give it a try and let me know how you guys like ’em! 🙂 Have you tried baked cutlets/croquettes before?
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Sri Lankan Baked Fish Cutlets (Fish Croquettes)
Curried Fish Filling
- 8.5 oz mackerel, bones removed or replace with same weight of cooked flaky fish this is approximately the weight of the fish from 1 mackerel in brine can
- 1/2 medium onion finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves finely chopped or minced (about 1 tbsp minced garlic)
- ½ inch ginger finely chopped or minced (about 1 tbsp minced ginger)
- 1 tsp Sri Lankan curry powder
- 1/2 tsp black pepper ground
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper less if you prefer a mild filling
- 2 serrano peppers chopped finely (deseeded if you prefer a milder heat)
- 2 tbsp ketchup
- ½ - ¾ lime about 1 - 1 ½ tbsp juice
- 8.5 oz russet potato cooked, or any floury potato
- 3 ¼ cup breadcrumbs
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 3 eggs
Curried Fish Cutlets
- Drain the canned fish and remove the bones. If you're using cooked fresh fish, make sure to de-bone the fish as well.
- Heat 2 tbsp of vegetable oil or coconut oil in a large non-stick pan over medium-high heat.
- Add the finely chopped onion and saute for a few minutes until they've softened. Add the garlic, ginger and saute for a further 30 seconds until softened.
- Add the curry powder, cayenne pepper, black pepper. Mix through the onions.
- Add the fish and mix with the onion-spice mix. Break the fish into smaller pieces and saute until the mix is dry, and it takes on the color of the spices - about 10 to 15 minutes. Do not let the mix burn (reduce the heat if necessary). Add the tomato ketchup and green chili peppers (serrano peppers) and mix through, and cook for a further 5 to 10 minutes.
- Season with salt if needed (remember you are using brined mackerel, so you may not need a lot of salt).
- Mash the potatoes (some smaller chunks are ok!), and add this to the fish mix. Mix well. Sprinkle the lime juice over the fish and potatoes and mix well. Season and add more lime juice and salt if necessary.
- Let the mix cool down.
- In a large non-stick pan, heat the oil over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the breadcrumbs and stir to combine the breadcrumbs with the oil as evenly as possible.
- Stir frequently, until the breadcrumbs turn a golden brown in color and are evenly toasted. Make sure to not let the breadcrumbs burn.
- Immediately place the toasted breadcrumbs in a bowl and let it cool (uncovered).
- Preheat the oven to 350°F / 180°C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and set aside.
- Break the eggs into a bowl and whisk gently to mix. Do not over beat and let it form too many bubbles. Optional - add a pinch of salt to the eggs and mix evenly.
- Place the toasted breadcrumbs on a plate.
- Portion the fish filling into 17 - 20 portions. Shape each portion into round or oval disc-like shapes.
- Evenly coat each cutlet with the eggs. Make sure there's no excess egg on the cutlets. You can use a fork to dip the cutlets in the eggs to make it easier.
- Next, place the egg coated fish cutlets in the toasted breadcrumbs and coat them evenly. Use your fingers to gently press the breadcrumbs into the cutlets to form a smooth crust, with no cracks.
- Repeat the egg wash and breadcrumb coating once more. This second coating is optional, but recommended for a crunchier crust.
- Place the coated cutlets on the lined baking tray, with about 1 - 2 cm of space between each.
- Bake in preheated oven for about 5 - 7 minutes. Turn each cutlet over and bake for a further 5 - 7 minutes.
- Remove the cutlets from the oven and let them cool slightly. Serve while very warm with tomato ketchup or tomato relish.
- You can reheat the cutlets, by placing them in the warm oven for a few minutes.