Kid-friendly Fearless Fishless Fish Fry Recipe - Sticky Fingers Cooking
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Recipe: Fearless Fishless Fish Fry

Recipe: Fearless Fishless Fish Fry

Fearless Fishless Fish Fry

by Dylan Sabuco
Photo by Dylan Sabuco
prep time
10 minutes
cook time
10 minutes
4-6 servings

Fun Food Story

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Fearless Fishless Fish Fry

Let's dive into a tasty journey into Chef Dylan's world! When Chef Dylan was a kid, his family celebrated Lent, a special time when they did good deeds and avoided eating meat for 40 days. Now, Chef Dylan was quite a food lover, even as a little kid, especially when it came to sandwiches. But giving up meat for Lent was tough! Luckily, his mom would surprise him every Friday after school with a yummy fried fish sandwich. Those tasty memories stuck with Chef Dylan, inspiring him to create something special for us. 

This sandwich offers a safe harbor for those wary of diving into uncharted culinary waters. Imagine a "fish" sandwich that captures the essence of the sea without actual fish. Sounds impossible, but it's not!  

The "fish" in the recipe is a tender, flaky creation made from seasoned and breaded artichoke hearts. When fried, the artichoke patties take on a crispy golden exterior that echoes the satisfying crunch of traditional fried fish. Inside, they remain delectably tender and subtly flavored.

For a truly immersive experience, tuck each patty into a soft bun and add a crispy lettuce leaf, ripe tomato slice, and a smear of Artichoke Tartar Sauce. Each bite is a tsunami of textures and tastes—crispy yet tender, briny yet slightly acidic, familiar yet entirely new.

So today, we will make our very own Fearless Fishless Fish Fry using artichoke hearts and secret seasonings. Get ready to trick your taste buds and have a blast in the kitchen!

Happy & Healthy Cooking,

Chef Erin, Food-Geek-in-Chief

Fun-Da-Mentals Kitchen Skills

  • chop :

    to cut something into small, rough pieces using a blade.

  • fry :

    to fry in a pan in a small amount of fat.

  • measure :

    to calculate the specific amount of an ingredient required using a measuring tool (like measuring cups or spoons).

Equipment Checklist

  • Large skillet + lid
  • Medium mixing bowl
  • Cutting board
  • Kid-safe knife
  • Can opener
  • Dry measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • Wooden spoon or rubber spatula
  • Liquid measuring cup
  • Small mixing bowl
  • Heat-resistant spatula
  • Paper towels


Fearless Fishless Fish Fry

  • 2 14-oz cans artichoke hearts
  • 1 1/2 C flour **(for GLUTEN ALLERGY sub gluten-free/nut-free all-purpose flour)**
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground paprika **(Omit for NIGHTSHADE ALLERGY)**
  • 3/4 tsp salt, divided
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper, divided
  • 1/2 tsp Old Bay Seasoning **(Omit for NIGHTSHADE ALLERGY or sub 1/4 tsp celery salt)**
  • 1 squeeze lemon juice
  • 1 egg **(for EGG ALLERGY sub 1 T flaxseeds + 1/4 C warm water—more info below)**
  • 2/3 C vegetable oil **
  • 1 C panko bread crumbs **(for GLUTEN ALLERGY sub gluten-free/nut-free breadcrumbs)**
  • 12 to 14 small buns (King's Hawaiian Rolls are best) **(for GLUTEN ALLERGY sub gluten-free/nut-free buns)**
  • tomato, optional
  • lettuce, optional
  • red onion, optional

Food Allergen Substitutions

Fearless Fishless Fish Fry

  • Gluten/Wheat: Substitute gluten-free/nut-free all-purpose flour. Substitute gluten-free/nut-free breadcrumbs. Substitute gluten-free/nut-free buns.
  • Egg: For 1 egg, substitute 1 T flaxseeds + 1/4 C warm water. Stir and soak flaxseeds in warm water for 5 minutes or until fully absorbed and thickened.
  • Soy: Substitute canola oil or other nut-free oil for vegetable oil.
  • Nightshade: Omit ground paprika. Omit Old Bay Seasoning or substitute 1/4 tsp celery salt.


Fearless Fishless Fish Fry


When I was growing up, my family acknowledged the Christian tradition of Lent. During this period of 40 days, my family and I would incorporate good deeds and not eating meat into our lifestyle. The last part was hard for me. I loved to eat all types of food, even as a boy, so giving up meat was difficult. My mom always surprised me with a different fish filet sandwich on Fridays after school—the small memory of getting fish sandwiches with my mom after school inspired this recipe. Today, we will create our "fish sandwich" using artichoke hearts and seasonings to trick your palate into thinking you are enjoying the real deal!

slice + reserve

Slice 1 lemon in half. Reserve one half for the Artichoke Tartar Sauce if making.

chop + measure

Open, drain, and chop 2 cans of artichoke hearts, roughly. Reserve 1/4 cup if making Artichoke Tartar Sauce. Then, place the chopped artichoke hearts into a medium mixing bowl. Next, measure and add 1 1/2 cups flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder, 1/4 teaspoon paprika, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning, 1 squeeze of lemon juice, and crack in 1 egg. Stir to combine.

fry + flip

In a large skillet, heat 2/3 cup vegetable oil over medium-high heat. In a small mixing bowl, mix 1 cup panko bread crumbs, 1 pinch of salt, and 1 pinch of black pepper. Scoop 1/4 cup measures of the artichoke batter and roll into balls. Then, place the artichoke balls in the panko breadcrumbs and roll them around until coated. Adults, place the coated artichoke balls into the skillet and gently flatten them with a spatula. Keep the lid to the skillet nearby to protect from hot splatters. Also, be sure to keep kids at a safe distance.

cook + munch

Cook the fishless fried fish for 5 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Place the "fish" on a plate with a paper towel to cool for a minute, then serve in between 12 to 14 small buns (1 or 2 per person) with Artichoke Tartar Sauce (see recipe). If you purchased any lettuce, tomato, or onion, now is the time to slice them and pile as much on your sandwich as you like. Enjoy!

Surprise Ingredient: Artichoke!

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Photo by BearFotos/ (Picking artichokes in Spain)

Hi! I'm Artichoke!

"Did you know that I'm a variety of thistle? That's a flowering plant with prickly leaves. I am a little prickly on the outside, but I have a good heart! Artichoke hearts are sweet and tender and were considered a luxury at European courts in the 1600s!"

History & Etymology

  • Artichokes were cultivated in ancient times. It was first mentioned in writing in Italy in the 1400s. 
  • Artichoke ancestors were most likely North African thistles or from Sicily, Italy, where they still grow wild today.
  • People from the Middle East were thought to have been some of the earliest groups to use artichokes as food. People began cultivating artichokes as early as the 5th century BCE.
  • According to Greek legend, the artichoke was created when Zeus turned the object of his affection into a thistle after being rejected by her.
  • Aristotle called the artichoke a "cactus," but it wasn't a case of ancient Greek botany gone wrong. Back then, the word for an artichoke—or at least its closest relative, a wild artichoke now called a "cardoon"—was a "kaktos."
  • The domesticated artichoke is an improved version of the wild cardoon, which is smaller and more prickly. The cardoon buds were eaten but their stems were often more desirable.
  • Due to artichokes' great taste, they quickly became popular and by Roman times, around 70 to 80 CE, only the rich were allowed to eat them. They were forbidden to the common people.
  • Ancient people considered artichokes to have many benefits. Artichokes, including leaves, were considered an aphrodisiac (love potion), a diuretic, a breath freshener, and even a deodorant.
  • Artichokes traveled up through Italy. The Dutch introduced them to England. The French brought them to Louisiana and Italian immigrants brought them to California in the 1920s.
  • Marilyn Monroe was the first official California Artichoke Queen in 1948.
  • California is the main supplier of artichokes in the United States, and Castroville, CA calls itself the Artichoke Capital of the World. However, Italy produces many more tons of artichokes than the USA.
  • The Guinness World Record for the largest serving of cooked artichokes is 2535 pounds and 5 ounces (1,150 kilograms). The record was attained in Pineda de Mar, Spain, on March 17, 2018, by Pura Brasa restaurant and Josper, S.A., a Spanish charcoal oven and grill company, at a charitable event. They chose artichokes to grill because they are popular in Spain.
  • The word "artichoke" comes from the 16th century "articiocco," from the Northern Italian variant "arcicioffo," from the Old Spanish "alcarchofa," from the Arabic "al-karsufa." 
  • "Articiocco" worked its way into English, and like the Italians before them, English speakers tended to make up associations for the word. Some called it a "hartichoke," since it looked like a heart; others assumed that the "choke" part had something to do with the hard-to-breathe meaning of "choke," either because you would choke if you ate the middle of the plant, or because it grew so fast that it would choke out all the other growth around it.


  • Globe artichokes grow on a large thistle plant that reaches 3 to 5 feet in height and spreads in diameter from 4 to 6 feet! The plant has long stems with large branches, like a Christmas tree. Some varieties have long arching spiked leaves, making them look like giant ferns. If artichokes are not picked for eating they turn into beautiful purple flowers.
  • About 6 to 9 artichokes grow on each plant. A single artichoke is an unopened flower bud from the thistle plant.
  • You first see the outer leaves or petals of the artichoke, with thorns on their tips. The base of the outer leaves are good to eat and have more flesh than the inner leaves. When the outer leaves are removed, you see the inner leaves. These do not have much edible flesh, but you can eat them. 
  • The fuzzy part is called the "choke." It is a clump of immature flowers in the center of the bud, directly above the heart, that are inedible and must be removed before eating the artichoke heart.
  • The meaty part in the center (the most delicious part!) is called the "heart," which is the base of the plant's flower bud that sits on the stem. You can also eat the stems, especially the stems of younger plants.  
  • There are many varieties of globe artichokes, including green, purple, and white. They come in baby, medium, and jumbo sizes.

How to Pick, Buy, & Eat

  • Artichokes are prime for eating just before the flower starts to open.
  • It is best to purchase artichokes from March through May.
  • Select firm, plump, green globes with compact center leaves that feel heavy for their size to pick the best artichokes.
  • Avoid artichokes with brown or separated leaves, which means they are old and will be tough and bitter.
  • Store uncooked artichokes (unwashed) in an airtight plastic bag in the refrigerator. They will keep for approximately two weeks, but cooking them within a week after purchasing is best. 
  • Cool cooked artichokes completely and cover them before putting them in the refrigerator, where they will keep for up to a week.
  • The thorns soften while cooking, or you can clip off the tips with kitchen scissors before cooking. 
  • Do not cook artichokes in an aluminum pot, as the pot may turn gray.
  • Cooking cut artichokes in lemon water helps prevent them from turning brown. 
  • You can cook artichokes the night before you serve them. Just reheat them in the oven or microwave before you serve, stuff, grill, or use them in another dish.
  • Cooked whole artichokes with leaves and hearts (discard the chokes!) are good to eat as a vegetable. Pull off a petal and dip the base into melted butter, mayonnaise, or another dip and scrape off the flesh with your teeth. 
  • Artichoke hearts can be added to a variety of dishes. They can be purchased whole, halved, or quartered. There are canned artichoke hearts in water, and jarred marinated artichoke hearts. Which ones you choose depends on how they are being used and what your recipe calls for. 
  • Hot or cold, artichoke dip goes well with pita and other breads, chips, crackers, and cut veggies. Spinach artichoke dip is especially popular. Artichoke hearts make a tasty topping for pizza and a nutritious addition to salads, pasta, soups, and stews.  


  • In 2004, USDA researchers measured antioxidant levels in over 100 foods commonly consumed in the United States. The study found that beans (red kidney, pinto), cooked artichoke hearts, and russet potatoes were tops among vegetables; however, cooked artichoke hearts were found to be the best antioxidant source among all fresh vegetables. Cooking negatively affects the antioxidant content in most foods, but it has a positive effect on artichokes.
  • High in fiber, low in calories and fat, and rich in antioxidants, artichokes are a healthy, versatile vegetable that are tender and scrumptious.
  • Artichokes are nutrient-dense, so, for the 25 calories in a medium artichoke, you're getting 16 essential nutrients! Wow!
  • Artichokes are a rich source of dietary fiber and antioxidants.
  • Artichokes contain bitter principles, cynarine, and sesquiterpene-lactones. Scientific studies show that these reduce cholesterol levels in the blood.
  • A fresh artichoke is an excellent source of folic acid, which acts as a cofactor for enzymes involved in the synthesis of DNA.
  • Fresh artichokes also contain moderate amounts of the vitamin C, an antioxidant. Regularly consuming foods rich in vitamin C helps the body develop resistance against getting sick.
  • Artichokes are an excellent source for vitamin K, which is very good for your bones.
  • Artichokes are also rich in the B-complex group of vitamins such as niacin, vitamin B6, thiamin, and pantothenic acid, essential for metabolism.
  • Artichokes are a rich source of minerals like copper, calcium, potassium, iron, manganese, and phosphorus. All are very good for your blood.

History of the Fish Fry!

Photo by Jennifer Tepp/ (Wisconsin fish fry)
  • Fish fries are associated with abstaining from meat and eating fish on Fridays during Lent and go back to at least the 6th century CE. Eventually, the custom was extended to other days of the week and all year.
  • A fish fry is a meal containing fish that has been either battered or breaded and then fried in oil. The type of fish and side dishes vary depending on where you live. 
  • In the northeastern United States, restaurants might fry up haddock or cod and serve it with coleslaw, french fries, and a roll. In Wisconsin, you might find cod or perch coated in beer batter and served with lemon or tartar sauce, coleslaw, french fries or German-style potato pancakes, and rye bread. In the South, a fish fry is often a family or social event. They may use catfish or bass battered with cornmeal and buttermilk with coleslaw, hush puppies, and grits on the side. 
  • At Sticky Fingers Cooking, our Fearless Fishless Fish Fry recipe fries up artichoke hearts instead of fish!

Let's Learn About Wisconsin!

Photo by Barbara Smits/ (ice fishing on Fox River at De Pere, Wisconsin)
  • Wisconsin is an Upper-Midwest state of the United States. It is north of Illinois, northeast of Iowa, west of Michigan, and east of Minnesota. Lake Michigan is east of the state, and Lake Superior is north. 
  • Nicknames for Wisconsin include the Badger State and America's Dairyland. Its motto is "Forward."
  • Wisconsin was the 30th state to be admitted to the United States on May 29, 1848. Before that, it had been the Territory of Wisconsin since July 3, 1836. The capital city is Madison, and the largest city is Milwaukee. 
  • The total land area of Wisconsin is 65,498 square miles, making it the 25th largest state after Illinois. With a population of almost six million, it is the 20th most populous state after Maryland.
  • Wisconsin got its name from the word "Meskousing," which the Algonquian-speaking people in that area called the river (as recorded in 1673 by Jacques Marquette, a French Jesuit missionary). French explorers renamed the river "Ouisconsin," spelled that way on a 1718 map. In the 19th century, the name was changed to "Wisconsin," and became the name of the territory and state.
  • European immigrants, especially from Germany and Scandinavia, settled in Wisconsin during the 19th century. German cuisine is still popular in Wisconsin, where you can find bratwurst and other sausages, sauerbraten (marinated beef roast), fried fish (at traditional fish fry events), pretzels, and beer. 
  • Scandinavian food is also popular, including the Danish kringle (a filled, buttery, layered pastry), Swedish meatballs, and the Norwegian krumkake (curved waffle cookie).
  • Wisconsin is considered one of the country's leading dairy producers and is well-known for its cheese. This is probably why residents, and especially fans of the Green Bay Packers professional football team, are sometimes called "cheeseheads." They often wear a hat resembling a big wedge of cheese on their heads at games. 
  • Colby cheese was invented in Wisconsin, and cheese and other dairy products, like cheese curds made from curdled milk, are very common. 
  • Families may enjoy canoeing and kayaking in lakes and visiting amusement parks, lakeside beaches, museums, wildlife parks, and zoos. Winter recreational activities include ice fishing, skiing, and snowmobiling.

That's Berry Funny

Why did the tin man from the Wizard of Oz eat an artichoke? 

He wanted a heart!

The Yolk's On You

What is the funniest vegetable in the garden? 

The arti-joke!

THYME for a Laugh

"Knock, knock!" 

"Who's there?"


"Artichokes, who?"

"Arti chokes when he eats too fast!"

Lettuce Joke Around

What do you call a conversation between two artichokes? 

A heart to heart.

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