I’m not sure how many of you or your children have read a series of books called The Boxcar Children written by Gertrude Chandler Warner. It was my daughter’s favorite book and my boys have just finished the first and second book in the series. They are wholesome, kind, lovely books reminiscent of a time before iPhones, video games, and television. In the stories the children build things, go fishing, make dinner, and take care of one another in such a compassionate way. They also eat fruits and vegetables from the garden, enjoying the simple pleasures in life. In one story the youngest boy wants nothing more than blackberries with cream for his birthday, and later in the story the sister makes fish for dinner after the boys bring home their finest catch. Somehow I am always wanting for both their easy, carefree lifestyle and the simple yet mouthwatering meals that they eat. This recipe is based on the fish described in the book Surprise Island. I found a recipe I liked on Serious Eats by Lidia Bastianich called Baked Fish with Savory Bread Crumbs. We call it Boxcar Fish.
2 Branzino filleted, (my fishmonger does this for me and it yields 4 fillets)*
6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Zest and juice from 1 lemon (an works nicely too)
½ cup white wine
4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
½ cup Panko bread crumbs
¼ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1 teaspoon 21 blend seasoning from Trader Joe’s (or any other msg free seasoning blend)
½ teaspoon kosher salt
* Any mild white fish fillets will work well
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a 9×13 casserole dish add 3 tablespoons olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, white wine, and garlic. Mix together. Add the fish and coat both sides with this dressing. Rest the fish skin side down.
In a small bowl add the rest of the olive oil, Panko breadcrumbs, cheese, and seasoning. Mix well. Sprinkle mixture on top of each fillet in an even layer. Bake for about 10-12 minutes (though could be a bit longer depending on the thickness of the fish). Turn the broiler on and broil for 2-3 minutes or until the top is lightly browned. Don’t walk away during the broiling as it can burn very quickly. I like to serve this with zucchini spaghetti and spoon the extra sauce on top.