Looking to pick up a deliciously healthy habit as the holiday season gets underway?
Stop at the freezer section of the store and pick up a bag of flash-frozen tilapia fillets. I always keep a couple of pounds of these in my freezer for those what-should-I make-for-dinner evenings.
While the name “tilapia” just doesn’t really summon up the excitement of, say, fresh Alaskan halibut or wild-caught salmon, it is good. The mild flavor and firm, flaky texture make it adaptable for many preparations.
I don’t like catfish, so I use tilapia instead. Tilapia in gumbo? Sure. Tilapia smothered in a good Creole sauce? Excellent.
The two preparations I’m sharing here today are two of my favorites. Fish Tacos, for casual or company fare; Sautéed Tilapia With Butter-Toasted Almonds to fancy things up.
Fish Tacos With Creamy Chipotle Sauce
Some time back, when I first heard about fish tacos, I thought they sounded a little odd. Then, they started to turn up on San Antonio menus. We especially fell in love with the Sea Island version, where they know how to fry fish to perfection.
After just one taste, I was hooked on that the combination of sweet, crunchy white fish, wrapped in two warm corn tortillas and dressed with the chile pepper-spiked tartar sauce. While you can grill fish or prepare it any other way for a fish taco, I particularly like the contrast in textures you get with crisp fried fish, crunchy slivers of cabbage and radishes and the lively flavors of a chile tartar sauce or salsa.
In this recipe for Fish Tacos, I added sliced avocado. (Why not?) The tartar sauce is actually just a simple blend of sour cream and mayonnaise, soaked and seeded chipotle chiles and a little minced onion and garlic salt. Char-roasted jalapeños or serranos served on the side are just about the perfect garnish.
Serve fish tacos with tender charro beans, seasoned sweet potato fries, your favorite coleslaw or a vegetable, such as green beans tossed in lemon butter with toasted almonds.
Sauteed Tilapia With Butter-Toasted Almonds
This dish can be for everyday or you can pretend it’s gourmet. If you consider the browned butter and toasted almonds, the succulent fish and the sparkling flavor of fresh lemon, it all just adds up to good food. And, it takes little time to prepare.
I sometimes just want the simple flavors of fish, lemon and butter. But if you need another flavor in the dish to add interest, go for some minced fresh herbs, such as dill or thyme, and fresh parsley. The fresh lemon is a must, though.
One more tip: If you keep almonds or other nuts in the freezer, they keep very well this way. But, they can also get stale if they’ve been in there awhile, or if the container wasn’t properly sealed. Taste them to be sure they’ll highlight the dish as they should, not add an off flavor.