How Kristen Kish Gives McDonald's Filet-O-Fish A Fine Dining Twist

Created initially as a Lent special in a heavily-Catholic area of Cincinnati, McDonald's Filet-O-Fish has been a McMenu staple since the '60s. While many people seek fish options at fast food restaurants, especially in the lead-up to Easter when 25% of the sandwiches are sold, some find the combination of fried fish and cheese odd. Still, if you are feeling a bit experimental and want to capture the essence of the Filet-O-Fish at home, Top Chef alum Kristen Kish has developed a gourmet spin that takes this simple sandwich to a whole other level.

Kish, the owner of Arlo Grey restaurant in Austin, Texas, first developed her high-end take on the Filet-O-Fish on the show "Fast Foodies," where she and fellow chefs Justin Sutherland and Jeremy Ford attempt to recreate and elevate the favorite fast food items of their celebrity guest stars (via YouTube).

Kish explained to Food & Wine that she wanted to create a fine dining version of the familiar fast food meal but still keep it connected to the original flavors. "I think food needs to connect with people," she said. "If I can connect with you through one flavor — 'Oh, that reminds me of something I grew up eating!' — already then there's some form of connection."

Kristen Kish uses steamed black bass and a brioche sauce

For those who have never tried the McDonald's Filet-O-Fish, it is a deep-fried pollock patty served on a plain bun with American cheese and tartar sauce. As Kish detailed for Food & Wine, she gets rid of the actual sandwich element, opting to create a light, fluffy "bun" out of phyllo dough and dill, which tops off the fish. She also swaps out McDonald's pollock for some steamed black bass as the star of the show.

Substituting the tartar sauce and cheese is where things get more complicated. To get the dairy component of the original sandwich, Kish instead uses a "brioche sauce," which is made by combining toasted bread cubes with simmering thyme, cream, and milk in a blender. This serves as the base of the dish where the fish and phyllo crisp are placed and held together with a bit of crème fraiche. Kish also adds a bit of tempura fried parsley on top in place of lettuce and finishes the entire plate with some capers cooked in brown butter and lemon.

While most people may look at the dish and not recognize its fast food origins, there's little doubt that it couldn't please any meat-avoiding Catholic — whether they enjoy the McDonald's version or not.