When the ocean gives you fish, you make fish sticks — a piece of white fish that is soft, moist, and feathery — with a thin and crispy crust.
It’s a perfect dish when you have only 20 minutes to prepare a meal that will satisfy your family or friends. You can make them even more appetizing if you pair them with side dishes!
From yummy sauces and salads to crunchy quesadillas and roasted veggies, here are the best recipes to serve your fish sticks with:
- Tartar Sauce
- Garlic Mushrooms
- Honey Mustard Sauce
- Buttery Roasted Onions
- Vegetable Quesadillas
- Creamy Potato Salad
1. Tartar Sauce
Homemade tartar sauce — the tastiest dipping sauce of them all. It has a flavor that is a little sour, slightly sweet, and perfect for fish sticks.
Tartar sauce is mainly served with fried fish meals, thanks to its savory flavor and crunchy texture. Chopped pickles give the sauce its signature tangy flavor, while the mayonnaise works as a creamy base.
Add capers (see capers aisle in the grocery store) to the sauce for a richer, briny taste. As for herbs, you can use fresh or dried dill to give it a refreshing kick. If you’re using fresh, chop it finally and mix it with the mayo.
The recipe also requires freshly squeezed lemon juice and a bit of Worcestershire sauce — you don’t need a lot; a few drops are enough to add a subtle spiciness to the whole dish. You can also add some Dijon mustard, as it gives a little extra zest to the sauce. Season with salt and pepper and start dipping.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Tip: The tartar sauce will thicken once cooled. You can store it in the refrigerator for a week.
2. Garlic Mushrooms
Garlic mushrooms are exceptionally juicy and tasty. The meaty texture of mushrooms soaks up the flavors from the garlic, herbs, and lemon juice, resulting in a delicious side dish for your crunchy fish sticks.
You can use any kind of mushroom you like. Before you start cooking, use a slightly moist paper towel to brush the dirt off rather than washing them.
Mushrooms are like sponges; you don’t want them to absorb water and lose their taste. Besides, dry mushrooms reach a beautiful golden brown color when cooked. Once they’re clean, trim the ends and cut them into similar-sized pieces.
Garlic is the secret star of the show; it adds sweetness to the mushrooms. You can chop it with knife or use a garlic press for easy chopping.
You can also add aromatic “earthy” herbs like rosemary or thyme to provide delightful minty and lemony tones to the meal. Lemon zest adds a tart scent to the dish, while lemon juice sharpens the other flavors.
Stir everything together on medium heat with some olive oil and butter until golden brown, and let the flavors take your breath away.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Tip: Instead of washing your mushrooms, wipe them carefully with a wet rag and let them soak in milk for 15 minutes.
3. Honey Mustard Sauce
Honey and mustard are a match made in heaven, and this blend of spicy and sweet is excellent for crispy foods like fish sticks.
The secret to a great honey and mustard sauce is variety. Use equal amounts of mayonnaise, sour cream, Dijon, and yellow American-style mustard for best results.
The mayonnaise adds richness, the sour cream softens things up, and the yellow mustard has a high vinegar content that enhances the flavor of the sauce. Finally, the Dijon mustard brings the robust flavor and signature tartness we all crave.
Go easy when adding honey to the mix; you can always add a little more later if you need it.
If the dressing becomes too thick, you can squeeze in some fresh lemon juice or vinegar to brighten it up a little. Stir everything together, and you are done!
Prep time: 5 minutes
Tip: Sourwood honey is an excellent option when making this sauce. It offers a buttery caramel taste with a spicy undertone.
4. Buttery Roasted Onions
Onions have a strong umami taste and offer a gentle sweetness when cooked. Roasting them is a great way to enjoy them.
First, broil them until golden, slap butter onto each onion, and top with a mound of chopped herbs. The butter makes the onion’s natural sugars caramelize, resulting in sweet, buttery bliss.
As for herbs, you can combine minty and earthy flavors, for example, rosemary, sage, thyme, and bay leaf. Finish with some black pepper.
Cover them with foil and bake the onions until soft and sweet. Spooning the melted butter in the bottom of the pan over the onions is a must. When finished, either serve them as-is or take off the skin — they’ll come off easily. For an extra pop of flavor, drizzle a little balsamic or sherry vinegar on top. Enjoy!
Prep time: 1 hour
Tip: Trim the top and bottom before broiling and roasting. Cutting the bottom keeps the onions steady in the baking dish, and trimming the top enables you to season the onions with lots of herbs.
5. Vegetable Quesadillas
Since the main dish is meaty, it’s a good idea to experiment with veggies when making quesadillas — for instance, mushrooms, onion, and bell pepper. You might also want to include some greens, like spinach or kale, to make the meal a bit more nutritious.
Season your veggies with a blend of spices like onion powder, garlic powder, cumin, smoked paprika, pepper, and salt.
It’s crucial to pick a cheese that melts nicely, like a blend of Monterey Jack and cheddar.
And then to put everything together, place a tortilla onto an oiled pan, and add the cheese and veggies. With your spoon, fold it in half and gently press so that the underside toasts.
When the cheese melts, flip the tortilla over. You’ll have lovely quesadillas filled with gooey cheese and flavorful vegetables in a matter of minutes.
Prep time: 20 minutes
Tip: Apply a thin layer of oil to the pan since flour tortillas absorb a lot of oil.
6. Creamy Potato Salad
Potatoes are undoubtedly the finest side dish for fish sticks or any other type of fish meal — which is why we kept the best for last. Buttery and fluffy with a crisp vinegar dressing, this potato salad is unbeatable.
Potatoes go especially well when combined with onions, boiled eggs, celery, pickles, herbs, and a creamy dressing, for instance, a combination of sour cream, yellow mustard, and mayonnaise. Sprinkling a little vinegar on top adds that delicious acidic taste, complementing the salty taste of fish sticks.
The onion, celery, and pickles add crunch and color to the salad. Don’t go overboard with the onion, as its strong aroma might overpower the other flavors.
Boiled eggs make it more creamy but add them in moderation; you don’t want your salad to be “egg salad” rather than “potato salad.”
You can use parsley or dill to punch up the flavors. Dill has slight lemon and anise notes that freshen everything up. Season with salt and pepper, and serve cold.
Prep time: 35 min
Tip: Use small, buttery, thin-skinned potatoes and boil them in salted water. They are quick to boil and don’t require chopping.
Everything that’s crunchy, from chicken fingers to fish sticks, deserves to be dipped into tartar sauce or honey mustard. If you are feeling extra “dippy,” go ahead and make them both — they come together in a matter of minutes.
In search of something more filling? The vegetable quesadillas and potato salad will definitely satisfy your hunger. Once you taste the melted cheese from the veggie quesadillas, you will want to make them every day.
Plus, you can even mix and match with other recipes. For instance, fish sticks with quesadilla and garlic mushrooms, or fish sticks, honey mustard sauce, and creamy garlic onions. Let your imagination run wild.