Never quite follows the recipe. Doesn't really measure. Tastes with her fingers. Somehow, it always works.

A Tale of Two Tilapia

Posted: July 28th, 2009 | Author: johanna | Filed under: Johanna | 15 Comments »

I love tilapia. I love it for several reasons. #1 – it’s cheap. Cheap is good. #2 – A little goes a long way. Where you only get 2 servings out of a pound from many fish because they’re so dense, you can get 4 solid servings out of a pound of tilapia. #3 – It doesn’t really taste like much. You can use it anywhere that you don’t want to use cod, anywhere that you want to eat some fish, but notthing fishy.

TaDaaa - Tilapia!! As I may have mentioned before, I am extremely susceptible to suggestion, especially when it comes to the kitchen. After reading all day about Julia Child and her wonderful days in Marseille and the Cote d’Azur, I had mediterranean flavors in my brain. Also, I’d been cringeing earlier in the morning over hearing Rachel Ray say “Cod in a Sack” over and over, along with “Lunch Sack” and “Brown paper sack”. (I don’t like the word “sack”.)

So, when attempting to figure out what on earth we were making for dinner in Whole Foods, I blurted out, “What about tilapia en papillote with fennel, tomato and olives?”

Mind you, I’ve never cooked anything en papillote before. I’ve also never eaten fennel. But hey, I’m adventurous! So we went for it. Plus, I’ve been looking for an excuse to buy more parchment paper, and en papillote is as good a reason as any. So, home we went, prepared to crank up the oven despite the heat, in search of papillote.
I pulled some of the fennel fronds off, to add an aromatic base to the packets. Then, I thinly sliced the fennel bulb, Flavorful!halved some cherry tomatoes, and chopped up a couple handfuls of pitted (by me) marinated olives.
I preheated the oven to 400, and pulled off 2 sheets of parchment paper (you could also use pieces of brown paper bag from the grocery store, brushed with vegetable oil so it doesn’t burst into flame). On each sheet, I layered half the fennel fronds, half the fennel, olives and tomatoes. Then, I put a tilapia fillet on top, sprinkled with salt and pepper, and lemon zest.
I squeezed some lemon juice over the lot, and drizzled some olive oil over as well. Then, I folded and crimped the parchment into a little packet, by pulling the long edges together, scrunching them together, and then folding the bottoms up. I put the packets into the oven for 20 minutes, and that was that! I’d say this one was a win, and obviously, it can be done a million different ways. Asparagus, broccoli, little teeny tomatoes, corn, whatever you feel like, and any white fish. Since Jesse told me to hurry up and take the picture because he wanted to eat quickly, I’m pretty confident this one is delish. Plus….. NO DISHES!!!

Spicy TilapiaLast night, we flipped the script, and ate the rest of our tilapia with some Asian flair! I bought a whole bunch of veggies (carrots, green peppers, rainbow chard, scallions) and soba noodles. I boiled the soba noodles, rinsed them, and drained them. I julienned the carrots and peppers using my new tool of death: The Mandoline my mom got me for my birthday!!! All fingers still intact, I then chopped the chard and a shallot, and started sauteeing those together.
The tilapia marinated in a combination of sriracha, sesame oil and soy sauce, until the chard was done. Then, it went on the grill pan, while the veggies got a quick saute with the chard. I combined all the vegetables with the soba noodles, and mixed up a vinaigrette of sorts, using soy sauce, honey, and sesame oil. This needs some work. I think next time, I’ll use the hot veggies, cold noodles, and a mix of thinned out peanutbutter, sesame oil and soy sauce. Maybe some hot sauce if we’re feeling feisty.

The fish was nice and hot, although not tongue-burning spicy. Just…. warm heat. The side needed some work, especially considering I’ve never cooked with soba noodles before. But in general, we see that Tilapia is multi-purpose, can go from Frenchy frenchishness to Spicy Asianness in 24 hours. JOY!!!


15 Comments on “A Tale of Two Tilapia”

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