Home-made Fish Fingers

I’ve always wondered why the ready-made breadcrumbs you can buy in the UK are a lurid orange, as are many of the pre-breaded food products on display in the shops, such as fish fingers and chicken. This is not the case in other countries. Japanese panko breadcrumbs are beige and so are the Spanish ones sold for croquetas.

Looking at the ingredients list of one well-known brand I see it claims to contain no artificial colourings but does include turmeric and paprika extracts. Again, why? I can only assume the added colouring is a weird hangover from the orange-hued 1970s. If you bake your own they go a rather attractive shade of golden brown without any unnecessary additions.

Ah, you say, but I don’t have time to toast breadcrumbs in my busy life and after all it’s your kitchen and your supper. Hand on heart, it takes just 15-20 minutes in an oven pre-heated to 165C/325F/Gas Mark 3 and properly dried they’ll keep well in a sealed jar.

Image of toasted breadcrumbs

Whizz the bread, crusts and all, into rough crumbs. Spread them in a roasting tin and cook, stirring occasionally so they colour evenly, until a deep golden brown. Keep an eye on them towards the end of the cooking period so they don’t burn. Bung the crumbs in a plastic bag when they’ve cooled and crush out any bigger lumps with a rolling pin. Job done.

I wanted them to coat home-made fish fingers. The excellent Felicity Cloake has, as usual, got here ahead of me. She suggests using panko crumbs for extra crunch but grinding half of them finer for extra coverage. I used half and half of my own toasted crumbs and panko but the choice, as ever, is yours. And if they’re not proper fish fingers to you unless they’re dayglo orange, by all means use a tub of the commercial stuff.

Finally, ask your fishmonger for the thicker loin rather than the thinner tail fillets, to make it easier to cut good fat fingers.

Home-made Fish Fingers

Image of fish fingers, served


500g sustainably caught loin of cod or other firm white fish

50g plain flour

Salt and pepper

2 eggs, beaten

100g breadcrumbs of your choice

2-3 tbsp sunflower oil, for frying


Cut the fish into chunky fingers, lengthways rather than across the grain. Sprinkle lightly with salt and put in the fridge for 20 minutes to firm up.

Put the breadcrumbs in a deep plate or shallow bowl. In a second bowl, mix the flour with a pinch each of salt and freshly ground black pepper. The beaten eggs go into a third bowl.

Dip each piece of fish in the flour, then the egg, shaking off any excess. Coat thoroughly in the breadcrumbs and place on a a tray or large plate.

Image of fish fingers frying

Put a wide frying pan on a medium-high heat and add enough oil to cover the bottom. Fry the fish fingers for about three minutes a side, until golden brown, crispy and cooked through. You’ll need to do this in batches so put the cooked ones on kitchen paper to drain and continue frying the remainder until they’re all done, adding a little more oil if necessary.

We ate ours with fried potatoes, minted peas and a dollop of home-made tartare sauce, but they would make a very good fish finger sarnie, ketchup optional. 

17 thoughts on “Home-made Fish Fingers

  1. love them. I agree: it takes almost no time to make crumbs. I generally make them after baking bread: I place them in the oven, I switch it off and next morning they are ready.
    Panko: …now even Tesco sells them! I generally find them too big for most jobs though
    ps I also love bog standard fish fingers, I confess (or, let’s say, I used to love.. it’s been yrs)

    • That’s admirably thrifty, Stefano! I thought panko worked here, mixed in with the other crumbs, but entirely home-made would be just as good. Re commercial fish fingers, I used to love them too, but I am spoilt, living in Suffolk, because I have access to such good fish. There’s no going back! (Mind you, you have a fantastic fishmonger on the Essex Road, don’t you?).

      • yes.. stev hatt, an institution .. I know that u mean about being spoilt: after living in Lyme regis for few yrs, where the crab was delivered picked, in a big bag, at a reasonable price, I now cannot bring myself to buy the small, expensive pots of the stuff from waitrose, here in London

      • I know, and they’re almost always padded out with egg or suchlike. We do get fantastic crabs here, in season, either picked or in the shell. You’ll have to come to Suffolk for a visit and bring a wheelie case!

  2. I’m not going to join the fish-finger love-in above, though I can see yours are way above average Linda. But I definitely don’t get fish finger butties. They’re quite the thing to eat though, these days, aren’t they?

  3. *smile* Rarely use breadcrumbs and rarely fry anything but your homemade fish fingers would be in a different class altogether with those bought in a packet. My late ex-husband and I had a rather busy social life and my daughters had to have dinner ere we left. I was amazed and hugely amused when hearing the one criticism they later had about their childhood: ‘Mom, so you know how often you gave us those horrible fish fingers?’ Yes, they would have been commercial but if that was our greatest sin I can live with it 🙂 ! Talking of breadcrumbs tho’ – if I do use any they have been Panko for decades . . . with fulltime work one simply foes not have time to make one’s own methinks . . .

    • There are much worse sins than feeding your kinds bought fish fingers! It’s funny, coming from a household where everything was made from scratch, I often envied other kids shop-bought foods. The grass is always greener, I suppose.

  4. Excellent – haven’t made these for ages but that’s tonight’s dinner sorted, probably with new potatoes, spinach and peas.
    I agree about Felicity Cloake, and am looking forward to her new book “One More Croissant for the Road”.

    • Sounds good! And yes, FC is such a good food writer. I cannot tell you how many times she’s perfected a recipe in print before I’ve even thought of it. Have a good weekend. Lx

  5. Called fish sticks here. And, at least in my day, a staple of school lunches—especially on Fridays. I always hated them. But you’ve made me reconsider. 🙂

  6. FFs were one of the most edible things for skool dinners – difficult for the kitchens to ruin them! When I went on to ‘bigger’ school there were 3 FFs each rather than 2!!

    They were a skoolboy crush and you have rekindled my love for them, Linda. When the weather cools a bit the fat will be in the pan…

    • That’s a bit like eating three shredded wheat! (My least favourite breakfast cereal.) I know lots of people are loving this heat wave but I can’t wait for things to get back to normal. I’ve never been so happy to see a cloudy sky. 🙂

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