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.

9 comments:

Kalyn said...

I agree completely. I've prepared Tilapia a couple of different ways and delicious each time. I use those frozen filets from Costco too. The price is right too, for someone who lives where fish can be really expensive.

sher said...

Tilapia is one of my favorite fish. And I fix it simply, like you did there. It has a very nice taste and texture. The pictures are wonderful! My fish monger says that many people aren't familiar with it, which is a shame.

christine said...

Hi Kalyn and Sher,
We're all of accord. Thanks for your input. I know I read in at least two of my cooking mags that Tilapia was a difficult fish to present well on a restaurant plate. That may have changed over time. I'm going to look for it next time I dine out to see for myself.

Kalyn said...

I'm featuring this recipe on my blog today as one of my South Beach friendly recipes of the week. It includes your photo (with a photo credit for you, of course) and a link to the recipe. Let me know if you have any thoughts about me using the recipe.

christine said...

No problem Kalyn. I'm honored to be among the wonderful bloggers featured on your blog!

Anonymous said...

This was so good! My 3 year old twins and I all loved it.

Christine said...

Thanks so much, Anonymous. I love hearing from people who actually use my recipes. I'm especially happy that your children loved it!

Charles said...

Christine, I tried this recipe last night. The wine and juice from the orange never "glazed". The flavor was still good and the dish has a lot of potential, but I am wondering what I did wrong. Too much olive oil? Not hot enough / too hot - I never got the one side of my fillet to be golden brown? Any tips would be great! Thanks.

Christine said...

Hello Charles. Thanks for leaving a comment here. The first thing I will ask you is, did you use a non-stick pan? It is much harder to get a sear with a non-stick. I use cast iron almost exclusively. And because I use cast iron, which holds heat really well, I may have been able to get the fish to brown using medium low heat. If you're going to try this again, use olive oil sparingly and up the heat to medium or medium-high. Be careful with the higher heat though or your liquids might burn faster than your fish will cook. Let me know how you fare.