Unlike deep fried fish nuggets, these oven baked gluten-free catfish nuggets are healthier and less greasy. I served these catfish nuggets along with some homemade Chinese style spicy garlic sauce, which dramatically added distinctive hot and bold Chinese flavors to these baked catfish nuggets. So now you have an adventurous alternative with an increased level of sophistication to your typical American deep fried, dipped-in a sweet sauce, fish nuggets.
Many baked catfish nugget recipes use eggs and bread crumbs. However, this recipe is egg-free, and I didn’t use gluten-free bread crumbs because we love our home-made gluten-free bread so much that it is too precious to be broken up into crumbs. Instead, I used all-purpose gluten-free flour, which turned out just as good.
Catfish nuggets are small cuts from the whole fish, not ground-up fish. Most of time they are the trimmings from the big fillet pieces at a reduced price. In this recipe, you can use either store bought catfish nuggets to save some money, or buy a catfish fillet and then cut it into small nugget size pieces. Rinse them with cold water and then pat dry with paper towel. Dip the clean nuggets in non-dairy milk if you prefer them non-dairy and egg-free. Next, coat the wet catfish nuggets in a bowl of gluten-free flour, spices, salt, and coconut oil mixture. Repeat the dipping and coating steps for each nugget a couple times or until they are nicely coated with the spicy flour.
When my husband, Brad, took the first bite, he had a surprised look on his face. Then he said, “This has a very unique flavor” followed by, “Put it on the blog”. Our little boy, Leo, also approved this simple recipe. I could tell he really enjoyed the nuggets with the spicy sauce. The small amount of spiciness was enough to keep him happy without causing him to grab his tongue.
- 1 pound catfish nuggets or catfish fillet, cut into 3 inch nuggets
- 1 cup all-purpose gluten-free flour
- 1 tbs oil (soft coconut oil or canola oil)
- ½ tsp paprika powder
- ¼ tsp ground black pepper
- ⅛ tsp salt
- ⅓ cup non-dairy milk (unsweetened is preferred)
- 1 clove garlic, mashed
- 1 tbs chopped green onion
- 2 tbs soy sauce (gluten-free is desired)
- 1 tbs water
- 1 tbs chili oil (see note)
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
- Gently rinse the catfish and then pat dry with paper towel.
- Preheat oven to 375 ºF. In a mixing bowl, mix together gluten-free flour, oil, salt, paprika powder, and black pepper. Divide the flour mix into two batches; use one batch at a time.
- Dip the nuggets in non-dairy milk and then dredge the nuggets in the flour mixture. Repeat two to three times or until the nuggets are well coated. Bake on parchment paper lined baking sheet for 20 minutes.
- While the nuggets are baking, mix all Chinese sauce ingredients together.
- Carefully transfer the baked nuggets onto wirecooling rack and let them cool for 2 minutes. Serve hot with sauce.
- If you don’t have allergy with dairy products, you could use butter instead of oil, and regular whole milk instead of non-dairy milk.
- The recipe for chili oil can be found at https://lightorangebean.com/shaanxi-style-chili-oil/
- Repeating the steps of dipping and coating the fish nuggets with flour will eventually make the flour mixture too wet to finish all nuggets. To avoid this problem, divide the flour mix into two batches. Start the second batch when the first one is too wet to work with.