March 27, 2010

Tilapia With Tomato Dijon Sauce

Now let's try some fish...

This dish is incredibly easy to make--and quick. (And the sauce is really tasty with zesty dijon and a hint of mint.)

A tilapia fillet, unlike the similarly inexpensive--and also oft-available--flounder fillet, is a nice-sized meat. Two tilapia fillets, paired with a sauce and a side or two, are plenty to feed two people for dinner.

I've had some tilapia fillets in my freezer for a few weeks. I bought them frozen and individually packaged (it's a tough task trying to separate, and keep intact, fish fillets that have become frozen together). Plain flounder or tilapia fillets, baked or sauteed without breading or without an added sauce, just aren't that spectacular. Actually, they're completely unspectacular to anyone who isn't starving. So, when I prepare flounder or tilapia (salmon is a different story due to its thickness and taste), I like to match it up with a sauce of some sort, plus a side that is savory but that doesn't overwhelm the fish flavor.

Preparing the ten ingredients for this recipe is a cinch, just be sure to allow time to thaw the fillets (if you got them frozen). You can do this (if they're still individually packaged) by immersing them in cool water until they're thawed.

While the fish is thawing, you can dice the tomatoes (large chunks are ideal, but you could even used canned--and somewhat drained--diced tomatoes if that's what you have on hand). Spread some flour (I used all-purpose white flour) on a plate or in a wide dish--you'll coat the fish in the flour to make a nice crust. Set out the rest of the ingredients (including those for any side dishes you wish to prepare), and you're all set.

Side Ideas: Couscous, quinoa, steamed broccoli, or brussels sprouts.
(I made a box of couscous (garlic flavoring packet included) and chopped up some leftover steamed broccoli, then I microwaved it briefly and added it to the couscous when it was finished and fluffed with a fork.)   

A few words about couscous: Couscous is an ideal side for this meal because of its quick cooking time. Never had couscous? Look for boxes of this pasta in the grocery aisle near the boxes of rice mixes (like Rice-A-Roni--another easy side idea, though prep-time is much longer). Couscous preparation usually includes bringing a measure of water (with some oil and maybe a seasoning packet) to a boil, then stirring in the couscous, immediately removing it from the heat, letting it sit covered for 5 minutes, then fluffing it with a fork. It's quick and simple. Add a side of steamed vegetables, or mix them in with the couscous, and you've got a nicely-balanced meal.

Tilapia With Tomato Dijon Sauce
Estimated time: 25 minutes + time for fish to thaw prior to cooking
Serves: 2

  • 2 tilapia fillets
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • Flour for dredging the fillets
  • Salt
  • Freshly-ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon parsley flakes
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 cup diced tomato
  • 2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves, slightly chopped or shredded
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard

1. Thaw tilapia fillets. Rinse then lightly pat dry.
2. Slice eat fillet approximately in half by cutting along the line where the spine was.
3. Heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium or large non-stick skillet on medium-high heat (the oil should just cover the bottom of the pan.)
4. Dredge each fillet piece in flour, lightly (but fully) coating both sides.
5. When the skillet is hot, carefully place each floured tilapia piece onto the skillet. Saute for about 3 minutes, until the bottom side of the fillets form a crust, and the edges begin to cook, as well.
*If preparing couscous begin following the package's instructions now.
6. Flip each tilapia piece over and immediately sprinkle salt, pepper, and parsley flakes over each piece.
7. Saute for another 3 minutes or so. The fish is done cooking when it is clear/white-ish (beneath the crust, of course) and flakes easily when pulled apart by a fork.
8. Transfer the fillets to a paper towel-lined plate. Cover with another paper towel.
9. If needed add about 1 teaspoon olive oil to the same skillet (do not scrape out the excess flour from the fillets--this flour will help make the sauce creamy).
10. Add the garlic to the oil and cook on medium heat for about 1 minute.
11. Add the diced tomato.
12. Shred the fresh mint leaves slightly and sprinkle them on top of the tomato. Stir to combine. Heat for a few minutes, until the tomato pieces soften significantly. Stir the mixture often.
13. Add the dijon mustard to the tomato mixture, and stir well. The sauce should become bubbly and creamy.
14. When the sauce ingredients are heated-through, remove from the heat.
15. Place 2 pieces of fillet on each plate and top with 1/2 the tomato dijon sauce. Pair this main dish with your choice of sides.



Brian said...

The sauce in this dish is really cool and tasty.