People say it all the time but it finally hit home this past week. Your child is born, you go through some sort of a new baby daze (the Norwegians call it “nursing fog”) and you wake up the next day with a baby that’s no longer a ten pound bun, but a 24 pound boy who laughs, and throws tantrums, and eats cake. Lots and lots of cake.
A First Birthday Party Menu:
Fishsticks of Pollack (recipe bellow)
Salad (for the grown ups)
Ketchup (Heinz, not the crappy Norwegian stuff)
Homemade Tarter Sauce
Assorted Jello Jigglers in locomotive and animal shapes
Coconut Cupcakes, recipe found here
And For the Grand Finale:
A Norwegian child’s birthday party is synonymous with one word. Scratch that, two words: Hot Dog.
You probably didn’t know that Norwegians eat more hot dogs, per capita, than any other nation, but it's true! Even though I’m supposed to start serving hot dogs to Lasse now that he’s reached boyhood, I see no reason to corrupt his refined little palette with processed pig meat. Good thing the kid loves fish. He loves fish so much that when we make salmon for dinner, I’ve started giving him a portion almost equal to my own. Which is a good thing, since fish is a) cheap in Norway, and b) as long as it’s bone-free, a far lesser chocking hazard than pig’s lips and “stuff” encased in intestine. You should know that, despite these harsh words, I really do like hot dogs.
But somehow gently poached filets of sole and pan fried trout with a side of celery root puree just didn’t seem like the right route to take for a first birthday party. Fish sticks, on the other hand, did. As long as they were homemade. And were followed by some awesome desserts.
Fish sticks are such a busy family dinner. Kids go nuts for them, and tired moms and dads love to serve them since they are often times the only way to get their kids to eat fish and they require nothing more than opening a box and turning on the oven. Call me an overachiever, but I went the from-scratch route on my fishsticks for Lasse. And guess what? They were easy-peasy. Especially if you make a bunch on a night when you have little more time to spend in the kitchen and freeze down the extras for a night when you don’t.
Any flaky white fish will do here. Cod would be a natural choice, but haddock, pollack, catfish, even tilapia would work well to. I went with pollack. I’m sure all you Midwesterners reading this would like to know that you could also use walleye, if you so pleased. Just promise not to use anything real fancy like halibut or Chilean sea bass.
*May I apologize now for the complete lack of fishsticks photos?! They got eaten up in a hurry during our family birthday party and in between mashing the potatoes and keeping Lasse from devouring the cardboard boxes his presents came in, any documentation (beyond some crummy crums) completely slipped my mind! Rest assured, next time I make these (which will be soon, since they’ve found a permanent place in our family dinner rotation), I’ll take a few shots and place them on this post.
From this Martha Stewart Recipe
*makes about 20 “sticks”, perfect for a family of 4
2 large eggs
1/4 cup (60 ml) milk
1 cup (80 g) dry bread crumbs (coarse ground homemade are best, but not necessary)
1 cup (140 g) all-purpose flour (you could substitute 1/2 whole wheat flour)
1 pound (450 g) white fish fillet (see suggestions, above), cut into 1/2-inch thick sticks
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (70 ml) canola or another flavorless oil
1. In a shallow dish, beat together the eggs and milk. Pour the bread crumbs and flour onto two separate plates.
2. Sprinkle fish sticks with salt and pepper, then dredge them in flour and dip in the egg mixture.
3. Transfer fish sticks to bread crumbs, covering fish completely and pressing lightly to adhere. Place each fish stick on a wire rack when coated.
4. Heat about 3 tablespoons canola oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Arrange half the fish sticks in a single layer without crowding; cook until golden brown, about 1 to 2 minutes on each side. Remove fish sticks from skillet, and transfer to a serving dish. Wipe out pan and repeat with remaining oil and fish. Serve fish sticks, hot or at room temperature, with tartar sauce and/or ketchup.