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Trying to lead a more healthful life as this self-distancing and quarantining drag on, I'm doing my best to eat fish once or twice a week. The only problem is, how many pieces of baked fish does one really want?

I like my fish hot and crispy, and if I had my druthers I'd get fried fish from Captain D's or Long John Silver's once or twice a month — my guilty pleasure. But that would totally dismiss the efforts I've made to keep the weight off and stay healthy.

So I've been experimenting with frying fish in my air fryer, first using a premade breading that is OK, but the sodium level in store-bought mixes is pretty high. Then I created my own by mixing together some of my favorite spices and was quite pleased with the outcome.

It doesn't matter what kind of air fryer you use to fry fish. Use the standard countertop variety or those wonderful space savers that combine convection ovens with air fryers, such as Black & Decker's Crisp 'N Bake. It certainly is a handy combination oven.

Most any type fish will work with this rub. Keep in mind the air fryers will not work with a runny wet batter. I prefer mahi mahi or cod. Their mild flavor accepts the flavors of the rub and marries nicely. But I've used this rub with salmon and tuna and had nice results, too.

Japanese White Sauce is a nice accompaniment to the fish, and one recipe makes enough for your fish, but it's also good on burgers, sandwiches, hot dogs, egg rolls, you name it. It's one of those sauces that's good on just about everything.

Air Fryer Fish

4-6 fish filets

1 tablespoon olive or canola oil

1 cup panko bread crumbs

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/4 teaspoon chili powder

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Japanese White Sauce:

1 1/4 cups mayonnaise

1 tablespoon melted butter

1 1/2 teaspoons tomato paste

2 tablespoons sugar, or to taste

1/2 teaspoon paprika

Cayenne pepper, to taste

Heat air fryer to 400 degrees. Drizzle fish with oil, coating well on both sides. Combine bread crumbs with spices, and rub on filets, coating well. Place filets in basket of air fryer, and cook for 10-15 minutes or until fish flakes easily, turning fish once so that both sides crisp evenly. Serve with your favorite sauce, such as Japanese White Sauce.

To make white sauce: Combine all sauce ingredients and mix well, adding a little water to thin it out. Taste, adding more sugar and/or cayenne pepper, as desired. Will keep for at least a week stored in the refrigerator.

Buns With a Twist

There's a new kind of hamburger bun on the market that puts a twist on tradition. Eastern Standard Provisions, a Boston-based bakery, has created a kind of "bread" that has the softness of brioche on the inside and a crispy, salty pretzel crust outside.

The company makes several styles of its popular pretzels, but the newest, Sun's Out Buns, are made for burgers. It's an interesting combination of textures and flavors — something different from a boring old bun. Just drizzle the pretzel buns with olive oil, heat them for a minute in the oven and sprinkle them with pretzel salt of your choice — traditional pretzel salt or jazz up the flavor with some chili-lime or lemon-rosemary salt. Sun's Out Buns and all the other pretzels and salts can be found at esprovisions.com.

Email Anne Braly at abraly@timesfreepress.com.

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Anne Braly
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