Please tell me I’m not alone in my love of McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish Sandwich. I must be honest and admit I had let our relationship drift over the last several years…it’s my fault, I blame myself. However, thanks to the new “Favorites Under 400” (calories) campaign our love affair has been rekindled. I’m sure there are critics who will scoff at my admission, but in order to conduct a fair Taste Test I must inform (and warn) my competition of the nature of my personal relationship with F-O-F.
Tonight “The House” will be preparing two from scratch versions of fish fillet sandwiches to be compared to the classic Filet-O-Fish. The guidelines are as follows: sandwich must be served on a bun (warm or cold), must include a fish fillet (breaded or not), and can feature an optional topping and/or optional cheese. The judging will utilize the same Evaluation Forms the government provides to Elementary School Children, their Teachers, and Food Service Staff. I’m not kidding. There is a 60 page USDA government document online that can be easily downloaded and walks you through conducting a Taste Test…thank you tax dollars. We will be using the condensed version.
Taste Test Results…
Let’s start with the Sweet Corn Tamale Fish Fillet Sandwich. Wow! If you’ll remember last week I became obsessed with the Cheesecake Factory’s Sweet Corn Tamale Cakes. Clearly I’m not over them since I wrapped my cod fillet in the same batter and baked it until crispy brown. We then topped this one with a slice of Muenster Cheese and a healthy dose of Tartar Slaw and served it on a warm toasted bun.
On a scale of 1 to 5 – we gave this one a 4+ ~ Judges comments: “This sandwich with it’s hushpuppy-like coating and tartar slaw screamed fresh fish fry…in a good way.”
Next was the Ciabatta Fish Fillet Sandwich. We named it this because the bun dominated this guy. We coated the cod fillet with panko breadcrumbs and pan browned it until it was moist and flaky on the inside and crispy on the outside. Topped it with a classic tartar sauce. Held off the cheese…to quote B “fish & cheese together…just doesn’t seem right.”
On a scale of 1 to 5 – we gave this one a 4 ~ Judges comments: “While very good the sandwich was somewhat lost in the awesomeness of the roll and didn’t have much personality beyond the roll. Didn’t suck but didn’t pop.”
We finished with the Filet-O-Fish Sandwich. Mind you I picked this up on my drive home and it waited patiently to compete for quite some time. We reheated it in the oven before serving. In case you haven’t had one lately, the Filet-O-Fish is a flaky white fish patty with a crispy coating, served with classic tartar sauce, a slice of yellow American cheese on a steamed bun. You already know how I feel about this guy.
On a scale of 1 to 5 – we initially gave this guy a 3+, however after reviewing the notes of the judges and tallying the bonus points…we find it only fair to correct that score to a 4+ ~ Judges Comments: “While a billion served can’t be wrong, the Filet-O-Fish may lack some personality. However, after sitting around for an hour plus, this one held up pretty well against our fresh ‘from scratch’ versions. For that we feel compelled to give Filet-O-Fish a bonus point.”
So there you have it. If you’re looking for flavor pop and personaility, take the extra time (30 minutes maybe) and start from scratch. The possibilities are endless. However if you’re short on time and long on fish sandwich craving…give my guy F-O-F a try. You might just find yourself falling for him like I did.
A quick bit of history on the Filet-O-Fish Sandwich…
First, join me in wishing this classic sandwich a Happy 50th Birthday! Filet-O-Fish was first introduced in 1962 by McDonald’s franchise owner Lou Groen. His location was the first in the Cincinnati, OH area and was centered in a predominantly Catholic neighborhood. The majority of his patrons observed a no meat on Fridays practice. Without a non-meat option on his menu, Friday sales were suffering. So Groen came up with a basic fish sandwich to add to his offerings and presented it to McDonald’s owner Ray Kroc. Before adding the Filet-O-Fish to their menu across the country, Kroc made a deal with Groen. They would choose a Friday and on that day two non-hamburger options would be listed on the menus. The sandwich that sold the most would be added to the permanent McDonald’s menu. Groen entered his Filet-O-Fish and Kroc entered his own creation, the Hula Burger (grilled pineapple with cheese on a bun). The Filet-O-Fish won it’s first Official Taste Test hands down! Lou Groen, who went on to own 43 McDonald’s locations, never earned one penny from the National Sales of Filet-O-Fish (now up to 300 million sold each year). Thanks Lou! Your Filet-O-Fish is still holding it’s own and competing well after 50 years.
Sweet Corn Tamale Cake Fish Sandwich
- 1 1 lb. cod fillet cut into 4 – 4 oz. portions
- 1½ cups frozen sweet corn
- ½ cup 1 stick butter, softened
- 3 Tbl. granulated sugar
- 1/8 tsp. salt
- ½ cup corn masa corn flour
- 2 Tbl. all-purpose flour
- 1 cup shredded cabbage & carrots
- 3 Tbl. tartar sauce
- Salt & pepper
- 4 slices Muenster cheese
- 4 onion rolls or steamed buns
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Prepare the tamale coating by chopping 1 cup frozen corn in a food processor until it’s coarsely pureed. Combine pureed corn with softened butter, sugar, and salt. Blend well with electric mixer or by hand until smooth.
- Add masa and flour and blend well.
- Mix in the remaining ½ cup of frozen corn kernels by hand.
- Divide mixture into four patties. With your hands press coating onto both sides of each fish portion (it’s a little tricky getting them to stay in patty form, they will come together as the bake).
- Arrange the coated fish patties on a baking sheet and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the cakes are browned on the bottom.
- Carefully flip all cakes with a spatula, add a slice of cheese to each, and bake for an additional 5 to 7 minutes or until other side is browned.
- Meanwhile combine shredded cabbage and carrots with tartar sauce, salt & pepper.
- Serve on a toasted roll with a spoonful of tartar slaw.
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