Blackened Fish Sandwiches with Spicy Corn + Cabbage Slaw

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It’s been raining cats and dogs all day here in Vancouver. I woke up a little bummed about it – I didn’t have a great sleep last night, and the grey sky was just making me feel more tired and grumpy.

But the blessing and curse of having a dog in an apartment is that you’re forced to go out (several times a day) regardless of how much cold water is being dumped from the heavens. So we bundled up (me reluctantly, Theo excitedly) and went out… and ended up staying out for an hour, giggling and jumping in puddles. It’s so good to see the world through a toddler’s eyes. They find such joy in small things.

After we came back in and climbed into comfy, warm clothes, I made an improvised chicken stew (with bacon, corn & cabbage) and hot biscuits for friends who came over this morning for a play date. It was so perfect and cozy. Now I’m back to enjoying the rain, with my little peanut in a soggy Muddy Buddy to thank. (I put a link because everyone asks me where to get one!)

I made these blackened fish sandwiches the other night, and oh my gosh, so good! Flaky white fish is coated in a spicy brown sugar-chili rub then cooked in a searing hot pan until slightly charred. The slaw is cabbage and corn, with a creamy jalapeno-lime dressing. Everything is piled into the softest buns you can find, for a crazy-delicious, and gloriously messy, hand-held dinner.

The slaw is so yummy that I made extra to have on the side. And the whole thing takes about ten minutes start-to-finish.

I love everything about the spicy-creamy-crunchy vibe, plus the sweet pop of corn and the pillowy, flour-dusted buns. They definitely brighten up a dreary day.

I find that a lot of people decide not to make fish recipes because the particular variety in the ingredients list is not commonly available in their region. In this recipe, I used haddock – which is abundant on the East coast, less-frequently seen on the West (I bought it frozen from Costco). But you should know that when it comes to fish recipes, you typically have a lot of flexibility – just stick to the type of fish the recipe uses. Flaky white fish, firm white fish, fatty fish… there are lots of guides. Here’s the first one I found – but a quick internet search with lead you to substitutes for any species you aren’t familiar with.

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Blackened Fish Sandwiches with Spicy Corn + Cabbage Slaw

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 2 minutes
Total Time: 17 minutes
Servings: 4 servings


For slaw:

  • cup mayonnaise
  • 1 lime juiced
  • 2 tbsp minced cilantro
  • 1 tsp kosher salt or more to taste
  • 3 cups shredded green cabbage
  • ¾ cup corn thawed if frozen
  • ¼ cup minced red onion
  • 1/2-1 jalapeño pepper minced (start with less, taste, and add more to desired heat level)

For fish:

  • 2 tbsp peanut or vegetable oil
  • 1 lb haddock or other flaky white fish such as snapper or tilapia or salmon
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • ½ tbsp brown sugar
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • tsp cayenne powder
  • 1 lime cut in wedges
  • 4 large soft buns for serving
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For slaw:

  • Whisk together mayonnaise, lime juice, cilantro and salt. Taste and add more salt if needed. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the dressing to spread on the buns.
  • Combine cabbage, corn, red onion in jalapeño in a large bowl. Add remaining dressing and toss thoroughly to combine.

For Fish:

  • Stir together chili powder, brown sugar, salt and cayenne. Rub evenly into both sides of fish.
  • Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat for several minutes until very hot, then add oil. When oil is shimmering hot, slide in fish and cook until slightly charred and just cooked through, flipping once. Use a fork to gently check the center - it's done when flakey and opaque. This only took 1 minute on each side for my thin haddock filets, so watch closely. Transfer fish to a plate and break into large chunks with a fork.
  • Spread reserved dressing on the four buns (about 1/2 tbsp each). Top with fish and lots of slaw. Serve lime wedges and extra slaw on the side.
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  1. Eileen says:

    Could you use yogurt instead of mayonnaise?
    thank you

    1. Jennifer Pallian BSc, RD says:

      Yes you could, but it’ll be more sour and less rich, as long as you’re ok with that! It may need an extra pinch of salt to balance it out.