Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Tilapia: Pan Seared

Tilapia. I've heard that chef's have to get really creative to make it taste good. That it's a hard sell in a restaurant. That it's bland. That it's an omnivorous opportunistic bottom feeder. (Those are my words - nice, huh?) If you are trying to be PC with what fish to buy, avoiding the over-fished varieties, the selection gets limited. Tilapia is not on the Seafood Watch list so when we saw these in Costco (I don't know where they came from, unfortunately) I decided to try them for myself. And I was surprised. Cooked simply and quickly, they were delicious.
All I did was to put a bit of olive oil in a skillet, heat it to medium low, add two tilapia fillets, sprinkle them with just a bit of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. When they were golden brown on one side, I flipped them over, squeezed the juice of a navel orange into the pan and over the fillets, ditto with about 2 tablespoons of Sauvignon Blanc, added a few pinches of dried marjoram and shook the pan a little bit to distribute it all. I let the fish cook on this side for about 4 minutes, basting them with the pan juices, until they were just firm to the touch. By the time the fish was done the liquids had reduced to a glaze. I removed the fish from the pan and onto two plates and quickly drizzled what pan juice would come off the bottom of the pan on to each fillet. (I did help the glazed stuff off the bottom of the pan with a spatula.) Done! And utterly meltingly tender, delicious, perfect! The orange juice and white wine reduced to a concentrated burst of flavor and the marjoram added the perfect herbal note. I don't know what all the fuss is about.