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

Washington’s most beloved state park turns 100

Deception Pass State Park, which draws as many visitors as the best-known national parks in the U.S., celebrates a century of recreation and conservation

Kid 'n Play members Christopher "Kid" Reid, left, and Christopher "Play" Martin perform on NBC's "Today" show during the "I Love The 90's" morning concert at Rockefeller Plaza on Friday, April 29, 2016, in New York. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)
Music, theater and more: What’s happening in Snohomish County

Relive the music of the 1990s with Kid N Play and other stars of the era at the Tulalip Casino Amphitheater.

Contestant chef Brian Madayag (left) of Edmonds and West Coast team captain Brooke Williamson on “Beachside Brawl.” (Food Network) 20220616
Edmonds chef reps Pacific Northwest on new Food Network show

Barkada owner Brian Madayaga will compete on a new Food Network series that premiers Sunday.

After two years of wellness, Covid finally hit this family, but thanks to vaccinations, the symptoms were mild. (Jennifer Bardsley)
Jennifer Bardsley’s fighting COVID-19 with vaccines and TLC

But even with vaccinations, the disease is scary for people like her with less than robust immune systems.

Turkey vultures’ pervious nostrils are among the features that help them feed on carrion. (The Columbian files)
In praise of turkey vultures, nature’s cleaning service

These raptors should be revered, not reviled, for their disposal of stinky, disease-laden animal matter.

close-up of gardener's hands planting a tomato seedling in the vegetable garden
This summer, it’s smart to go big or go home at the nursery

When buying annuals, vegetables or perennials, go for the 1-gallon pots. And don’t skimp on the soil amendments and plant food.

Writing on Belfast's Peace Wall.
Rick Steves’ Europe: Europe tears down walls — and builds bridges

The walls of antiquity — and of the Cold War — were symbols not of strength, but of mistrust and insecurity.

Coming home for the summer: Your college student and you

It can be tough going and conflicts will arise, but don’t worry, parents — they’ll be back in school soon.

He booked his JetBlue tickets on Orbitz. Now they’re gone

When Benjamin Eckstein shows up at the airport for his flight from Boston to San Jose, his airline says he doesn’t have a ticket. Whose fault is this mess, and how does he clean it up?

Musicians Rod Argent, left, Hugh Grundy, Chris White, and Colin Blunstone of The Zombies attends the 2019 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony at the Barclays Center on Friday, March 29, 2019, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
Music, theater and more: What’s happening in Snohomish County

Get your tickets now to see rock Hall of Famers The Zombies in Everett. Plus there’s a month of music planned in Langley.

Celebrate national pollination week

This year, the week of June 20-26 is National Pollination Week and… Continue reading

The GPP for this Friday is Clematis 'Rooguchi' and the image credit goes to Richie Steffen.
Great Plant Pick: Clematis ‘Rooguchi’

This charming, non-twining vine is ideal for tight situations, and does well in a container.