Tilapia: the trendiest of white-fish

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September 29, 2010

1:36 AM

I feel like fish is hit or miss for a lot of people. Some people love it, some people hate it. Some vegetarians indulge in it, others absolutely refuse. But for those of you with an interest in fish, I’d like to offer you a great recipe handed down to me by a rather close friend of mine. She swears so strongly by this dish, she suffered second-degree burns accidentally gripping the hot pan, too attached to the meal to let it drop to the floor. But whether or not having bear claws of gauze for two weeks would be worth savoring this mouthwatering dish can be for you to decide.

Unlike a few of my previous recipes, this one relies much less on a vast array of spices to provide unique and powerful flavors. The flavors here come primarily from that most mild of white fish, Tilapia. Grouped with sautéed garlic and onions and broiled under a few slices of fresh tomato, you can create a mouthwatering taste experience with only a little effort and a little cash. Tilapia fillets are easiest to buy frozen, and places like Bloom or Martin’s will carry individually frozen fillets that are perfect for this recipe. Fresh fish will absolutely work if you so care to try it. And instead of wild spices like cardamom and turmeric, we’re going to keep it a bit more basic with oregano and basil. Even a dried blend of Italian seasonings would be great.

The recipe below will technically serve two but will most likely serve one, like it did for me. When making fish, it’s always wise to serve it with some sort of vegetable and some sort of starch. For these, if you wish to prepare them, you could use anything from rice to risotto, and in a hurry your local grocer’s natural foods section will have a variety of stovetop options to prepare. For this recipe, I sautéed some whole green beans to serve as a side dish and left out the starch side in favor of making a batch of cayenne orange brownies for dessert. It’s really all just a mix-and-match game.

Here’s what you’ll need to serve yourself (and you can adjust the amount proportionately depending on what you’re serving with it and how much you think your guests can eat):

2 tilapia fillets, thawed (you can defrost them in the microwave too if you forgot to thaw them like I did)

1 Tbsp olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

1/2 an onion

1/2 a tomato, in thin slices

3 cloves garlic

1 tsp dried/fresh oregano

1 tsp dried/fresh basil

salt and pepper, extra oregano and basil to taste

lemon, for garnish

If you’d like to make the green beans too, get:

about 1 good handful of fresh whole green beans

1 Tbsp olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

And here’s what you’ll do:

1. Preheat your oven to 450° F and then start with the onion and garlic. Preheat a pan with the olive oil over medium-low heat. Once shimmery, add the onion and garlic, basil and oregano and sauté until they’ve got some color, about 5 minutes.
2. Once the onions and garlic are done, transfer them to a pan (or if the pan you used can go in the oven, just leave them in there) and position the thawed tilapia fillets on top of the onions. Season the tops of the fillets with some drizzled olive oil, salt and pepper, and position the sliced tomato on top. Drizzle with a little more olive oil and add any extra oregano and basil you’d like.
3. Place the pan in the oven and bake at 450° F for 8-10 minutes. After 8-10 minutes, turn the oven off and turn the broiler on HI and allow the fillets to sit under the broiler for 2-3 minutes. This will allow the tomatoes to get soft and rich and ultimately make them melt in your mouth in the best way.
4. While the fish is in the oven, throw the green beans in a pan with the preheated olive oil and sauté with salt and pepper until the fish is ready. Super simple.
5. Remove the fish and plate with the green beans and any other dishes you’ve prepared and enjoy immediately with a squeeze of lemon juice and a glass of chardonnay (or two).

Fish doesn’t always have to be scary, and it is certainly something you can still make in a limited space on a limited budget. So try it! This one’s foolproof.

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