2 large tilapia fillets (about 1.25 pounds)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
½ cup milk
2 cups finely crushed oyster or Saltine crackers
½ cup breadcrumbs
2 cups oil for frying (peanut, canola, or vegetable)
2 tablespoons minced white onion
⅓ cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons minced dill pickles with juice
4-6 slices American cheese
4-6 white hamburger buns
Cut the fillets into squares about 3" by 3". Reserve scraps as well (waste not, want not!).
Place fish in a shallow bowl and sprinkle with lemon juice. Allow to marinate for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, place crumbs in a shallow bowl and line a plate or baking sheet with parchment or waxed paper.
Drain excess lemon juice and add milk to the fish.
Lift pieces out carefully and dredge in crumbs to cover completely. Dip in milk again and then crumbs for a good coating. Place coated fillets on the paper and refrigerate 10 minutes up to 3 hours to help coating adhere.
Make your tartar sauce:
Mix onions, pickles, and mayo with a pinch of salt and a dash of white pepper
Unwrap and cut the cheese slices
Heat ½ inch depth of oil in a large skillet until a crumb sizzles when dropped in. It should be about 350ºF with a thermometer.
Fry fillets cold from the fridge for about 2 minutes on each side.
When golden and cooked through, remove fillets to a rack.
Warm the buns in the microwave for 10 seconds or until soft.
Put a slice of cheese on the bottom of each bun, top with a fish square or two for larger sandwiches, a big scoop of tartar sauce and each right away!
Makes 4 big sandwiches or 6 smaller sandwiches