The secret to extra-crispy bread crumbs in this recipe for sole rolled in lemon-thyme bread crumbs is to cook the crumbs twice: first in a skillet and again in the oven. (Photo by Goran Kosanovic for The Washington Post)

The secret to extra-crispy bread crumbs in this recipe for sole rolled in lemon-thyme bread crumbs is to cook the crumbs twice: first in a skillet and again in the oven. (Photo by Goran Kosanovic for The Washington Post)

This fish is positively crumby — and we like it that way

The recipe calls for white fish topped with bread crumbs that you make extra-crispy in a skillet.

This is one of those dishes that feels like home to me. It is not only similar to one Mother had in regular rotation when I was a kid — when she would roll flounder fillets (often fish my dad had caught off the Long Island coast) with bread crumbs and butter, then sprinkle them with lemon juice and bake it — it also happens to be one of my daughter’s favorites and a weeknight go-to in our home.

I put my own stamp on it, mostly with the goal of making the bread crumbs as crispy as possible (because, really, who can resist crispy bread crumbs?) and with an eye on optimizing the dish’s healthfulness.

Toasting dried bread crumbs in a skillet with olive oil and a little butter before adding them to the fish gets the crumbs ultra-crispy and browned, with just enough buttery flavor, allowing the focus to be on cooking the fish just right, rather than risk overcooking it to get the bread crumbs well done.

I use whole-grain crumbs — either homemade from sandwich bread or store-bought panko — and season them with fresh garlic, thyme leaves and lemon zest. Keeping the fillets flat, rather than rolling them like my mom did, and adding the lemon juice once everything is done lets the crumbs stay crispier as well.

I still love flounder, and that works well for this recipe. But I prefer sole’s slightly firmer texture. Either way, this is a dinner I am happy to come back to again and again, and I think you will be, too.

Sole with crispy lemon-thyme bread crumbs

Here, flaky white-fleshed fish is topped with seasoned, whole-grain bread crumbs that you first make extra-crispy in a skillet. That step allows you to focus on cooking the fish just right, rather than risk overcooking it to get the bread crumbs well done.

2 teaspoons olive oil

1½ teaspoons unsalted butter

½ cup whole-wheat panko bread crumbs, or homemade whole-grain bread crumbs (see note)

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

1 medium clove garlic, minced

Kosher salt

4 fillets of sole, or other thin, white-fleshed fish (1 pounds)

Freshly ground black pepper

Lemon wedges, for serving

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine the oil and the butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Once the butter has melted, add the bread crumbs, thyme, lemon zest, garlic and season lightly with salt; cook for 3 or 4 minutes, stirring frequently, until the garlic is fragrant and the crumbs are crisped and a darker shade of brown.

Arrange the fillets on the baking sheet. Season them lightly with salt and the pepper, then scatter the bread crumb mixture on top of each one, pressing down slightly so it adheres. Bake (middle rack) for about 8 minutes, until the fish is just opaque and flakes easily with a fork.

Serve with lemon wedges.

Note: To make your own whole-grain bread crumbs, cut off and discard the crusts form two slices of whole-grain or whole-wheat sandwich bread. Place in a food processor and pulse to the consistency of fine crumbs. Spread on a quarter baking sheet and toast in a 350 degree oven for 10 to 12 minutes. The toasted bread crumbs can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Makes 4 servings. Nutrition per serving: 190 calories, 23 grams protein, 7 grams carbohydrates, 7 grams fat, 2 grams saturated fat, 80 milligrams cholesterol, 590 milligrams sodium, 1 gram dietary fiber, no sugar.

Talk to us

More in Life

R.J. Whitlow, co-owner of 5 Rights Brewery, has recently expanded to the neighboring shop, formerly Carr's Hardware. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
County craft breweries’ past lives: hardware store, jail

Most breweries in Snohomish County operate in spaces that formerly housed something far different — from boat builders to banks.

Caption: Stay-at-home parents work up to 126 hours a week. Their labor is valuable even without a paycheck.
A mother’s time is not ‘free’ — and they put in 126-hour workweeks

If you were to pay a stay-at-home mom or dad for their time, it would cost nearly $200,000 a year.

CloZee performs during the second day of Summer Meltdown on Saturday, Aug. 3, 2019 in Darrington, Wash. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
The psychedelic fest Summer Meltdown is back — and in Monroe

The music and camping event is on for July 28-31, with a new venue along the Skykomish River.

How to cultivate inner peace in the era of COVID, insurrection

Now more than ever, it’s important that we develop and practice relaxation and mindfulness skills that calm our minds and bodies.

Budapest’s House of Terror.
Cold War memories of decadent Western pleasures in Budapest

It’s clear that the younger generation of Eastern Europeans has no memory of the communist era.

Gardening at spring. Planting tree in garden. Senior man watering planted fruit tree at his backyard
Bare root trees and roses have arrived for spring planting

They’re only available from January through March, so shop early for the tree or rose you want.

Help! My Expedia tour credit is about to expire

Kent York cancels his tour package in Norway that he booked through Expedia after the pandemic outbreak. But the hotel won’t offer a refund or extend his credit. Is he about to lose $1,875?

Veteran Keith F. Reyes, 64, gets his monthly pedicure at Nail Flare on Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2021 in Stanwood, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
No more gnarly feet: This ‘Wounded Warrior’ gets pedicures

Keith Reyes, 64, visits a Stanwood nail salon for “foot treatments” that help soothe blast injuries.

Photo Caption: A coal scuttle wasn't always used for coal; it could hold logs or collect ashes. This one from about 1900 sold for $125 at DuMouchelles in Detroit.
(c) 2022 by Cowles Syndicate Inc.
Coal scuttles of days long gone by now used for fire logs

This circa 1900 coal scuttle is made of oak with brass trim, and sold for $125 at auction.

Most Read