Yep, you read that right. Bacon breadcrumbs. In this recipe, I’ll show you how easy it is to make bacon breadcrumbs, and how to use them to transform baked haddock into a delicious meal that will have your family begging for seconds!Jump to Recipe Print Recipe
My mom has a shellfish allergy, and we didn’t eat a lot of seafood growing up. Fish recipes don’t spring to my mind as easily as those for other meats and vegetables. As a result, fish is something that I have to make a conscious effort to include in my weekly meal planning. Bacon, on the other hand…
We love breading things in panko and either pan-frying them or baking them until they’re deliciously crispy. I wondered for a while if there was a way to incorporate bacon into my breading, and after a bit of trial and error figured it out! I’ve used it for pan-fried cod as well, and plan to branch out beyond seafood soon. Give this bacon breaded baked haddock a try yourself, and you won’t be disappointed!
What Kind of Fish is Haddock?
Haddock is a firm, white flaky saltwater fish that is typically mild in flavor. If it smells overly “fishy,” select something else. Look for fillets that are on the thicker side, close to an inch if you can get it. Frozen is fine (it’s all I can get in the Midwest), but make sure to defrost and dry the fillets thoroughly before cooking. Haddock can be prepared in a variety of ways, and is especially nice baked, breaded, or battered and fried.
What Can I Substitute for Haddock?
Haddock is related to cod, which is a good substitute if you can’t find it. Haddock has a smaller flake and is a bit drier in texture than cod, but both will work in this recipe. You can also try halibut or sea bass, or just ask your fishmonger (if you’re lucky enough to have one) for their best white flaky fish.
I’ve made this recipe with cod a couple of times, but the cod was a bit thinner so I pan-fried it. It’s very similar to this one. The post will be coming soon!
Is Haddock Healthy?
It is! Especially when baked, although the breading detracts a bit from its health benefits. Haddock is low calorie and high in protein with minimal saturated fat. It offers the health benefits of heart healthy omega 3 fatty acids, but not nearly as many as fattier fish such as salmon. It contains significant phosphorus, selenium, niacin, B6, and B12. Drawbacks to eating haddock include its not insignificant cholesterol content, and the fact that like all fish it may contain trace amounts of mercury. Livestrong goes into much more detail if you’re interested.
What is Panko?
Panko is a Japanese breadcrumb made from a special crustless white bread, ground into large flakes. The name comes from the Japanese word for bread, pan (borrowed from the Portuguese). It tends to be crisper than American breadcrumbs, and is slightly healthier as well. We always have some around, since tonkatsu (Japanese pork cutlet) is a huge favorite in my house, but if you don’t have any you can make your own or substitute regular breadcrumbs.
What is Za’atar?
Za’atar is a Middle Eastern spice blend that is a great addition to a wide variety of dishes. Recipes vary, but the main ingredients are usually thyme, sesame seeds, and sumac. Gimme Some Oven has a good recipe here. Sumac is a ground dried red berry with a lemony flavor, and lemon zest or pepper is your best substitute. There isn’t a great readily available substitute for za’atar since it is a blend, but some thyme and lemon zest will flavor your fish nicely if you can’t find it where you live.
What is Aioli?
Aioli is an Italian garlicky mayonnaise. It’s traditionally made from only garlic, salt, and olive oil, but modern recipes often use an egg yolk to ease emulsification. To emulsify something means to cause two substances that don’t want to mix (oil and water) to come together. Forceful mixing with a whisk, blender, or food processor is needed to bring the water and oil particles together, and the egg yolk helps to hold them in suspension. Various flavorings can be added, and I use capers and mustard to complement the fish.
How to Make Baked Haddock with Panko Bacon Breadcrumbs
Season 1″ think haddock fillets with salt and pepper, smoked paprika, za’atar (or thyme), garlic powder, and a squeeze of lemon. Let them sit for a bit while you cook about 8 oz of bacon (How to Cook Bacon). I usually fry mine in a cast iron pan, but any method is fine for this recipe – we don’t need the fat for anything later on. If you’re interested, you can learn how to make your own bacon like I do here.
Add 1 cup of Panko, 1/4 cup parmesan, and the bacon to the bowl of a food processor or blender. Process until well blended. Transfer the bacon breadcrumbs to a wide, shallow bowl. Set up two more bowls – one with a cup or so of flour, the other with an egg wash of two eggs beaten with a splash of water.
Take the haddock fillets, (cut in half if necessary), and dip first in the flour, then egg wash, then finally the bacon breadcrumbs. Shake/drip off the excess after each dip, but be sure the fish gets coated completely. Place the breaded haddock fillets into a baking dish coated with cooking spray or oil. Place into a 400 oven for approximately 20 minutes (depending on thickness), or until an instant read thermometer reaches 140F.
How to Make Caper Aioli
This part is totally optional. The fish tastes great with no sauce at all, or you can get a bottle of tartar sauce out of the fridge. I’m a food geek, so I always make my own. It doesn’t take long, but it is a little finicky.
You can make it either by hand or in a blender or food processor. I make it by hand when I only need a small quantity, only because the bowl of my food processor is a little too big. Apparently an immersion (stick) blender works pretty well too, but I’m used to just using my whisk.
To make aioli by hand, set a small bowl on a kitchen towel (helps to keep it from spinning). Separate an egg and drop the yolk only into the bowl. Add minced capers, dijon mustard, minced garlic, and a pinch of salt. Whisk to combine. Squeeze in the juice from half of a large lemon. Whisk again.
Add a few drops of extra virgin olive oil. Really just a few drops, not a tablespoon. Whisk well. Add a few more drops while whisking as hard as you can. Continue. After you’ve added a tablespoon or two in this manner, you can increase the rate at which you add oil, but if you add too much too fast the aioli won’t emulsify. Go really slowly with the oil until you’ve done it a dozen times, and make sure you whisk as fast as possible throughout the process. Or, just get out your blender or a small food processor. Follow these same instructions, but use the pulse function instead of giving your whisk arm its workout for the day.
Give each diner a piece of haddock, and squeeze a little lemon over it. Give everyone a small bowl of aioli, or you can drizzle it over the top of the fish. Dig in, and enjoy!
What to Serve with Baked Haddock
We like a green vegetable – broiled asparagus, roasted broccoli, roasted brussels sprouts, or sautéed greens – and either a root vegetable like sweet potato or carrots or a salad. Try a caprese salad (tomato, mozzarella, and basil, pictured above), a cucumber salad with feta, dill, and red onion, or a melon and feta salad with fresh herbs. I usually avoid starchy sides like rice, pasta, or couscous when I’m serving a breaded main dish.
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Baked Haddock with Panko and Bacon Breadcrumbs and Caper Aioli
- Food processor or blender
- 1.5 lb haddock 1" thick fillets
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp za'atar may substitute thyme
- 1/2 tsp lemon juice
- 8 oz bacon
- 1 cup panko
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese freshly grated
- 1 egg yolk
- lemon juice from 1/2 lemon
- 1 Tbsp capers minced
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1 Tbsp dijon mustard
- pinch salt
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Baked Haddock with Panko and Bacon Breadcrumbs
- Season haddock fillets on both sides with salt, pepper, smoked paprika, garlic, za'atar, and squeeze of lemon juice.
- Cook bacon until crisp. Add to bowl of food processor or blender, with panko and parmesan cheese. Pulse until well-combined and of fairly uniform size.
- Set up three wide, shallow bowls. One with flour, one with eggs beaten with water, and one with bacon breadcrumbs.
- Dip fish fillets into first flour, then eggwash, then bacon breadcrumbs, shaking off excess in between. Place each fillet onto sheet pan, coated with thin layer of oil or cooking spray. Bake at 400F for approximately 20 minutes or until internal temperature of 140F has been reached. Serve alone, or with caper aioli or tartar sauce and a squeeze of lemon.
- To small bowl of bowl of blender/food processor, add: egg yolk. minced capers and garlic, mustard, and pinch of salt. Whisk or pulse until combined. Add juice of 1/2 lemon, and whisk or pulse until well combined.
- Add olive oil. Start with just a few drops, and whisk vigorously or pulse until well-incorporated. Add a few more drops and repeat. Continue until a tablespoon or two has been added, then a bit more oil can be added at a time. Continue whisking continuously (or pulsing) until the entire 1/4 cup of oil has been incorporated, and the aioli has a consistency that resembles mayonnaise.