Sunday, October 25, 2009

Thai Coconut Fish Sticks (Gluten-Free + Egg-Free)

Here is a yummy recipe I created a few weeks ago for gluten-free fish sticks using halibut. This is one of my super-quick-and-easy meals! I use shredded coconut for the breading and a unique slurry to dip them'll see in my recipe below. I also like to serve these with a Thai Peanut Dipping Sauce (recipe to follow).

I find these fish sticks very filling and only eat about 2 or 3 before I am done. I like to serve them with plenty of fresh, organic greens. I usually just drizzle some of the peanut dipping sauce over the greens for a dressing.

I haven't been posting much lately and the truth is that my 22 month old twin boys are really difficult right now. Last Sunday they figured out how to climb out of the crib at nap time. The daily two hour nap is forever gone I am afraid. I have not figured out how to get them to sleep otherwise. Usually I read them a few books, nurse them, and put them in the crib. Then I blow kisses and close the door. They normally just go to sleep. Not anymore! Evenings are much more difficult now because they are just so darn tired by dinner time...and so am I! They were asleep by 6pm tonight. We had an early dinner that took about 10 minutes to prepare. Got to love that!

Along with the fish sticks and greens, we had leftover brown rice, quinoa, lentils, and green smoothies (for the twins). Tom made his own vegan coconut curry with the Thai red curry paste, coconut milk, peanut butter, lime juice, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, napa cabbage, collard greens, onions, garlic, and Kaffir lime leaves. Hope you enjoy my recipe....

Thai Coconut Fish Sticks

For a vegan version of this recipe (if you tolerate soy) try cutting extra firm tofu into sticks and marinating them in a mixture of brown rice vinegar, red curry paste, and tamari. Then use the breading recipe below. These fish sticks are great as leftovers too. To reheat, use a skillet with a touch of coconut oil. Sauté on both sides until warm. I did this last time I made them and it worked great. Fish cooks very fast so make sure you don't ever cook these. They will dry out if cooked too long. Also, have the skin cut off when you purchase the fish, it is much easier that way. I cut it off today. If you decide to do it just make sure your knife is super sharp.

Fish Sticks:
1 1/2 to 2 pounds halibut, skin removed and cut into "sticks"
1/4 cup sweet rice flour (or arrowroot powder)
5 to 6 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon Thai Kitchen red curry paste
1 teaspoon Herbamare
2 cups shredded unsweetened coconut
coconut oil for cooking

Peanut Dipping Sauce:
1/4 cup creamy organic peanut butter
1/2 cup water (plus more if needed)
2 to 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 clove garlic, crushed (optional)
1 teaspoon Thai Kitchen red curry paste
Herbamare, to taste

First, rinse the halibut, then cut into "sticks." In a separate bowl whisk together the sweet rice flour (I use Authentic Foods superfine sweet rice flour), water, red curry paste, and Herbamare.

Begin heating a large 11 or 12-inch skillet over medium heat. You want your skillet to be hot when adding the fish.

While your skillet is heating, place the fish into the rice flour/water mixture and coat evenly. Then add the shredded coconut and mix it with the fish to coat, using your hands to press the coconut into the fish sticks.

Add abut 3 to 4 tablespoons of coconut oil to your skillet. Make sure the oil spreads out quickly. This means your pan is hot enough. Add the fish sticks, I do mine in two batches (adding more oil in between). Cook for 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Use tongs to flip them. You may need to cook yours shorter or longer depending on the thickness of the fish. The fish sticks will continue to cook after you remove them from the pan. You can check for doneness by breaking apart the thickest stick with a fork.

To make the peanut dipping sauce, whisk all ingredients together in a bowl. Add more water to desired consistency. Add sea salt or Herbamare to taste. Source:

For more gluten-free breading ideas you can read a past post I did on this subject. It contains plenty of ideas for breading along with a few extras that readers left in the comments sections.

More easy dinner recipes you might like:
15-Minute Poached Salmon
Thai Fresh Green Curry
Spiced Chicken and Rice Stew
Chipotle Black Bean and Yam Stew
Slow Cooked Chicken Tacos
Zucchini Bake...tastes like cheese

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About the Author

Alissa Segersten holds a Bachelor's of Science in Nutrition from Bastyr University. She is the founder of Whole Life Nutrition, the mother of five children, a whole foods cooking instructor, professional recipe developer, and cookbook author. She is passionate about helping others find a diet that will truly nourish them, and offers elimination diet recipes, healthy gluten-free recipes, paleo and vegan recipes, as well as tips for feeding your family a nourishing, whole foods diet. Alissa is the author of two very popular gluten-free, whole foods cookbooks and guidebooks: The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook and Nourishing Meals. She is also the co-author of The Elimination Diet book. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram!


  1. Wowsers....those look really good!

  2. Wow, those look incredible! I admit I've always loved fish sticks (of course, I haven't had any in years). How wonderful to have a healthy recipe to go to now! :-)

    Tough re: the twins. I admit more than once (well, okay many times), I strapped my son in the car seat and we went for a ride just so he would go to sleep and I could get a little break. His sitter never had a problem getting him to nap though. I hope you get some tips from veterans on how to get them to nap now that they climb out of the crib.


  3. This sounds delicious! Oh dear, I remember the look on my sons face when he learned how to climb out of his crib at 24 months. It does make it hard to relax wondering if they are climbing out and you don't know it or not take that nap at all. You must be tired. Mine never napped well. I used my stroller in the house and put on a movie and sleep would sneak up on him and then I would push the stroller into the bathroom and get my shower.
    When I thought I had it figured out they would decide it was time to change and still do. I hope you all get some rest soon.

  4. Thanks Ali for sharing vegan options here. I think Tom's curry sounds fantastic and plan to do a similar version this week. I do make your green curry a few times a month by the way.

  5. This recipe looks heavenly! I have been wanting to make some fish lately but did not know how to make it kid friendly.
    Tom's curry sounds great also. I keep wanting to ask you for some yummy ideas for cauliflower. And this is right up the alley.

    I am sorry about your boys! Samuel stopped napping around that time as well. I am also guilty of driving him to sleep for a long time. He was VERY difficult by the time the evening came and naps was the only thing to keep my sanity. I'd love to come and help sometime if you'd like. Feel free to ask! I could also come with my younger one after lunch and he could play with them. It would give you some time to yourself.

  6. Thank you for your incredible cookbook. I am trying to use more coconut products these days. And when nap times ended...we switched to "quiet time". We separated them into different rooms (baby gates) to play quietly alone, and half the time, they fell asleep anyway!

  7. Oh, am I going to try these this week. My son is eating Ian's gf version right this minute and these sound sooo much healthier and tastier.

  8. I couldn't live without the nap break yet! We didn't do a crib with Dahlia and once we moved her out of our bed, I made a platform bed for her that was low enough to the floor so I didn't have to worry about her if she rolled out. Our room is also fairly simple and relatively child-safe. Getting a two year old to nap in a non-confined area is tricky, especially when we were trying to break the nursing-to-sleep pattern. I don't know how I would do it with two!

    One thing that helps is that I made her some curtains for her bed area to give her sleeping area a kind of nook feeling. She takes some books in there to "read" until she falls asleep.

    It's always good to know how you adapt meals for the wee ones. Sometimes I feel like we get stuck in a rice cake rut. What's for snack today? Rice cakes with almond butter or rice cakes with hummus or rice cakes with bean dip. Oh joy! Fortunately, most rice cakes serve as spoons for the dips, but still. It's a bit harder now that she is noticing what other people are eating.

    Good luck with the naps. I imagine it's just a phase and that they're probably not yet going to give up the afternoon naps just yet (hopefully!).

  9. Hope your twins start sleeping soon =D.

    These fish sticks look amazing! I love the use of coconut with it & the dipping sauce sounds ideal!

  10. Thanks y'all for your sweet comments and helpful sleeping tips! FYI - my girls were great sleepers, especially my first one - they slept in beds. I find raising boys/twins to be much more of a challenge. I do think they are ready for a bed now. I like the tip to put curtains around the bed.

    Enjoy the fish sticks! :)

  11. Those look fantastic! I'm going to have to try them soon :)

  12. I didn't have red curry, so I used green curry and they were fabulous. My 6 year old ate 5!

  13. Ali - I don't have kids so I have no advice. I have twin cousins I grew up with, though, and they're boys - only 6 days older than me. My aunt was always exhausted. She used to let them pull all of her pots and pan out of the cupboards and bang on them because it would keep them busy for hours. It was the only way she could get anything done.

    I so admire your commitment to healthy food in the midst of exhaustion. You're incredible. Thanks for linking to Slightly Indulgent Mondays and for sharing the xanthan gum post.

  14. My advise for naptime is - take them to Grandma's house and leave for the afternoon - wouldn't that be a treat? The fish stick do look great! I am looking forward to making these.

  15. I'm about to make this with tofu. Could you approximate the proportions for the marinade? That would be great! Thanks so much!

  16. CV - I know I am probably too late here as you've probably already made these. For 1 pound of tofu, use 1/4 cup tamari, 2 tablespoons brown rice vinegar, and 1 teaspoon red curry paste. Hope you enjoyed them! :)

  17. Thanks for the update, Ali! As it turns out, I did end up winging
    it (due to my usual lack of planning ahead!), but the recipe was scrumptious, none the less. I'll try your version next time, as mine had a bit too much vinegar for my taste. Lots of big smiles and thumbs up from my family, so I'll definitely be making it again!!!

  18. I just made these tonight! I found that 2 cups of coconut was WAYY to much, I have alot left over and it has been soaked in raw fish :(. I used wild yellowfin tuna and swordfish from Whole Foods. For the "breading" I used arrowroot, water, Thai kitchen GREEN curry paste, oregano, salt, onion powder, cayenne. The sticks worked out so nice! I haven't had fish sticks since I was a kid.. so it was really nice to dip them in some ketchup! I would have served them with just some baby spinach greens but my brother and dad don't "do" certain (most, actually) veggies so I roasted some carrots and steamed a mixture of brown rice and white basmati rice. I also made a spicy coconut soup that I used as a sauce. I LOVED it! Thanks for the great recipe!

  19. I tried these with organic chicken tenders from the Farmer's Market. They were great! I also cut back a bit on the water and coconut. :)

  20. I'm not up to peanuts yet on my diet, any ideas for another dipping sauce that would work with these? I really want to try them! Thanks.

  21. This sounds AMAZING!! :)

    I have a whole bunch of white fish to use up too!! Thanks for the inspiration!! :)

  22. I can't wait to try these. Always looking for ways to get more fish in the kids.

    These are the times you just have to chalk up to transition. I doubt the nap time is gone forever but you can only imagine the sense of freedom that they are feeling. The novelty will wear off. Just super "baby proof" the room. They will fall out eventually.

    You are pregnant and nursing twins. This, I believe, is a whole other book idea. Way to go!

  23. Nevermind...I just saw the date on the original post. But still excited about the recipe.

  24. a life saver with our twin boys.. :-)

  25. I just made these today, and they were absolutely delicious!!

    @Jessica - I'm not up to peanuts yet with my diet either, so I substituted the peanut butter with sunflower seed butter!! Just as delicious - if not better!!

  26. Hi Ali,
    I really want to try this recipe. I am nightshade free do you have any suggestions on what herbs/spices I can sub for the currys? Thanks so much :O)

  27. You could try a mix of ground coriander, turmeric, ginger, and black pepper - I think that would be tasty. Just mix the spices in with the sweet rice flour. :)

  28. I just made these tonight...for me with Cod, for husband with Salmon. We both were amazed with how delicious they are. Thank you!

  29. I just made these and used your garlicky green sauce instead of the peanut sauce (I'm not eating peanuts right now) and the combination was phenomenal! Thanks so much for the recipe, this will be a repeat in our house for sure!

  30. Happy Gluten Free MomSeptember 16, 2012 at 7:15 PM

    These fish sticks are INCREDIBLE - delicious, super easy and quick to make, very healthy and everyone was asking for seconds... Extra happy as I've been missing fish sticks since I went gluten free - and these are without doubt better than your standard breaded fish stick! Thankyou, thankyou, thankyou


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