Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Crispy Lemon Tilapia

Happy New Year… any of you make a healthier eating resolution? 
I know I do every year, even though I eat pretty healthily anyway, I could stand to take off a couple of pounds!  Here’s a go at an easy healthy favorite that you can make quickly after work from ingredients you probably have on hand.

I love Tilapia for its mild flavor, easy to use fillets, price and sustainability.  Tilapia is a farmed fish, and eats a mostly vegetarian diet.  It has a mild, firm texture and lends itself to so many flavors.  It’s usually about half the price of halibut too.  It thaws so quickly (*), that sometimes I don’t even thaw the fillets before throwing them in the oven.  It takes 2-3 minutes more, but who cares if you forgot to take something out of the freezer for dinner tonight?
4 Tilapia fish fillets, thawed*
2 lemons, juiced and zest
½ cup panko crumbs
2-3 Tbsp olive oil  1 lemon, cut into wedges
2-3 Tbsp
Parsley, chopped
1 tsp seasoning salt, and/or
Salt & pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350.  Take an 8x8, or similar size, baking dish and drizzle one tablespoon of olive oil, add the tilapia filets, making sure that each one has a small amount of olive oil underneath it. 

Zest one of the lemons, and set the zest aside for the Panko crumb mixture.  Juice 2 lemons and pour around the fish in your baking pan.

Prepare the Panko crumb mixture by adding the crumbs to a small bowl, add in the remaining 2 Tbsp of olive oil, zest from one lemon, chopped parsley and about 1 tsp of seasoning salt.  I use Cavender's Greek Seasoning, which is my personal favorite, but there are so many types of seasoning salts out there, go ahead and experiment with what you already have!  I usually add a teaspoon, or two of ground pepper too.  Mix it altogether, the mixture should be well coated with olive oil.  Taste the mixture if you like... it should taste pretty highly seasoned because it's going on top of mild plain fish! Top each fish fillet with the crumb mixture, pat it down with your spoon so it's firmly on top of the fillets.

Bake in the 350 degree oven for about 15-20 minutes. If the crumbs are browned and the juices in the pan are bubbley, it's probably ready to go!  Scoop up a bit of the cooking juices from the pan and put these on the plate, adding the crispy fillet on top of the sauce.  The crumbs that fell off the fish during cooking and combined with the lemon and fish juices make a truly tangy decadent tasting sauce. Enjoy!
Side Dish Inspirations
I’m sure you can think of a million things to serve this with, but here are some ideas if you are feeling low on inspiration today:
  • Wild rice, noodles
  • Green Salad or a coleslaw
  • Steamed broccoli
  • Sautéed spinach, or kale
  • French bread
Round Two cooking… make more and use it for:
If you plan it right, you could make a couple extras to make any of the following for another meal.  Here's some ideas:
  • I like this leftover for lunch, and tilapia doesn’t smell too bad when you re-heat it, so it’s probably okay at work also!
  • If you had a bunch of leftovers, I bet you could make fish cakes… but I’m going to need to think about that!  More to come…

What else would this technique work on???
You could easily use this technique on:
  • Salmon, this definitely lends itself to salmon, or many, many other types of fish.
  • Chicken… you could do this with chicken breasts too, but you would need to brown both sides of the chicken first, then top with the panko mixture!

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