Spicy fish sandwiches are biting

Gretchen McKay
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Many families take advantage of spring break by heading to the beach for a little sand and sunshine. But what if you’re stuck at home when everyone else is on vacation, or like me, headed to the cold, snowy mountains of Wyoming, where I’ll be dog-sitting my sister’s aging Labrador while she goes to — you guessed it — the seaside.

Seafood is popular at the beach because it’s so readily available in coastal areas. This spicy cod sandwich channels those beachy “catch of the day” vibes. The seasoned fillets are broiled rather than fried for less mess (and calories), then piled atop a toasted, buttery brioche bun with a thin slather of mayo and a crunchy cabbage slaw brightened with lime zest and juice.

It’s quick, easy and tastes of sunshine and warm breezes.

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Any firm white fish makes for a good sandwich. I prefer cod because of its large flake and mild taste.

When shopping for fresh cod, choose fillets that appear moist and firm. The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch Guide recommends Pacific cod from Alaska as a best choice.

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Spicy cod sandwich on a brioche bun with a zesty lime slaw. (Gretchen McKay/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette/TNS)

Spicy Fish and Slaw Sandwiches

For spice mix

  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Zest 1/2 lemon

For slaw

  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise, plus more for buns
  • 1 lime, zested and juiced
  • 3 cups finely shredded red and/or green cabbage
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and shredded
  • Handful fresh cilantro, chopped

For sandwiches

  • 4 cod or haddock fillets, each at least 1-inch thick (about 11/2 pounds total)
  • 4 brioche burger buns, split and buttered
  • Mayonnaise, for buns
  • Olive oil or vegetable oil, for drizzling

Make the seafood rub: In a small dish, mix spices and lemon zest.

Make the slaw: In large bowl, stir together mayonnaise, lime zest and juice until well combined; for more spice, add an optional teaspoon of the spice mix. Stir in cabbage, carrots and cilantro. (If not using right away, cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.)

Pat fish fillets dry. Sprinkle generously on all sides with remaining seafood rub.

When ready to serve, remove slaw from the refrigerator. Toast the 4 split burger buns. Spread the bottoms and tops of the buns with a thin coating of mayonnaise. Place on serving plates.

Preheat broiler to high. Place fillets on a greased pan and drizzle with a little oil. Broil 3-4 inches from heat until fish just begins to flake easily with a fork, around 6-8 minutes, depending on thickness of fillets.

Assemble sandwiches: Place a fish fillet on bottom half of burger bun. Top with slaw and top bun. Serve immediately.

Serves 4.

— Gretchen McKay, Post-Gazette