I was introduced to a recipe about 5 years ago that changed the way I view eating fish and using mayo. This only matters because I HATE mayo, and ate so much dry, boring, salmon growing up that I wouldn’t touch any fish for 7+ years. Seriously, mayo was used in and on everything in my semi-rural childhood. All of our ranch and tartar sauce were home made with mayo, salmon salad, casseroles, and sandwiches… all with mayo. It smells bad, tastes bad, and looks like fat blobs. Yuck. That being said the new recipe I found used mayo, of course, but also parmesan cheese, and green chilies. I was willing to try it. I was blown away! It was creamy, salty, fresh, and delicious! (It helped that it wasn’t salmon.)
I absolutely love that recipe and have used it on all manner of white fish and also chicken very successfully.
Now the other day we were working on the Creek Soup recipe, (a child lead activity that turned out incredibly tasty!), and I was bouncing around the idea of whether to use beef (the most pleasing option) or fish since the recipe revolves around the idea of a creek, and fish is more creek related than beef. Nathan had been craving fish anyway so I go a little of each. After deciding the beef would go in the soup for lunch, I was left with fish for dinner that night. Not having planned it out very well I didn’t have the staple green chilies I would need to make my favorite recipe. I would have to improvise.
Having recently made my own take on tartar sauce I still had some fresh lemon zest available, and the Creek Soup had included fresh basil and cilantro. With parmesan already on hand I felt I had a winning ticket.
I was very right. Of-course the lemon went well, and even though I used mayo (instead of my personally preferred yogurt or sour cream substitute) the fresh herbs and cheese created a fantastic sauce that was just the right amount of creamy, buttery, and tangy deliciousness.
This recipe is perfect for our family since fresh basil and cilantro are almost always in our fridge, and it would be very easy to substitute lemon juice for the zest. I think, like it’s original recipe cousin, it would also be great on chicken, and either of those would make a great sandwich, especially if breaded/battered. I’ve even served it toasted on baguette for a side or appetizer.
Lemon, Basil, and Cilantro White Fish
- 2 pounds of white fish – cod, halibut, tilapia
- 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup soft unsalted butter
- 3 T mayo
- 1/2 t fresh lemon zest
- juice from 1/2 a lemon (~2 T)
- 2 T rough chopped cilantro – lightly packed
- 2 T rough chopped basil – lightly packed
- 1/4 t salt
- 1/8 t ground pepper
- Mix cheese, butter, mayo, lemon zest, lemon juice, herbs, salt, and pepper with either a spoon or whisk in a medium bowl.
- Place your fish on a non stick baking sheet (or foil with cooking spray) and broil first side/bottom for about 5 minutes.
- Turn the fish and generously sauce with mixture. Broil for an additional 3-5 minutes until mixture starts to turn golden. (Fully cooked fish should easily flake with a fork.)
- Excess dressing/mix can top cooked fish, be served as a side dip, or saved for later use.
- Left overs can easily be broiled and brought back to life.