Spicy Chipotle Cornmeal-crusted Fish

This image courtesy of Jim Scherer

Although at Moosewood we almost exclusively bake the fish we serve, in this recipe, we pan-fry it for a nice, crispy crust and because it’s quick and easy. It’s also good plain or with good old ketchup or tartar sauce. In Ithaca, we can get locally grown and ground cornmeal and the flavor and texture of freshly ground cornmeal is wonderful. We hope you can find good-quality cornmeal where you live.

Serves4 to 6

Cooking Time30 min

Cooking Time - Text30

Cooking Methodpan-frying


Total Timeunder 1 hour

OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Family Get-together

Recipe Coursemain course

Dietary Considerationegg-free, gluten-free, lactose-free, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free


Taste and Texturecrunchy, spiced


  • 2 pounds firm fish fillets
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus oil for pan-frying
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon or lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons chipotles in adobo sauce
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed (optional)
  • 11/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper


  1. Rinse the fish and cut it into 4 or 6 portions. In a blender or food processor, whirl the oil, lemon or lime juice, chipotles in adobo to taste, garlic, if using, and 1 teaspoon of the salt, The more chipotle peppers, the less adobo sauce you need and the spicier your fish will be. Place the mixture in a shallow bowl. Add the fish and generously coat the fillets with the chipotle sauce. Put the cornmeal, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper into another shallow bowl or large plate. Dredge each piece of fish on all sides in the seasoned cornmeal.

  2. Unless you have a very large skillet, you’ll probably have to pan-fry in two skillets or in batches. Fill a nonstick or well-seasoned skillet 1/4 inch deep with oil. Warm on medium-high heat until the oil is hot but not smoking. Cook the fish for 3 to 4 minutes on each side, depending on the thickness, until the fish flakes with a fork. Transfer to paper towels to drain. If you have another batch to fry, keep the cooked fish in a warm oven.


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