I was eight months pregnant when I started having tilapia for lunch at least once a week. Something on What to Expect (which I checked religiously at the start of every week of my pregnancy, thankyouverymuch) had said I should be getting lots of omega-3s, and a quick Google search told me that tilapia was an easy source. So why not, right?
I could hardly believe my good fortune when I found that my makolet carried (inexpensive) frozen tilapia fillets. The truth is, I’m always pleasantly surprised by what they stock. I guess if you walk in assuming they won’t have what you want, it can only go uphill. Which it totally did in the case of the tilapia.
Because as I discovered, tilapia can go from a frozen fishy thing to a beautifully seared fillet in just minutes. Here’s how.
Slice open the package and rinse the frozen fillet under running water to melt away the ice. Next, pat the fillet dry (as much as you can) with paper towels. Putting a wet piece of fish in a hot pan of oil is asking for trouble, so don’t skip this step.
Heat a little olive oil in a pan and place the fish inside, skin side down. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook over medium-high heat for three minutes.
Flip it carefully and add a little more oil, just enough to keep the bottom of the pan greased. The skin should now be crispy and golden, especially around the edges. Three more minutes on the clock…
And you’re done! The top of the fillet should now be gently browned. It will also flake easily with a fork, but seriously, who wants to flake their fish before plating it?
Top with a pat of butter right away so it starts running in rivulets down the hot fish. Add a little more salt and pepper, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, and devour.
One year ago: Craisin zucchini bread
Yield: 1 serving
- frozen tilapia fillet (in Hebrew: amnun)
- 2-3 Tbsp olive oil
- pat of butter (about ½ Tbsp, or as much as you like)
- fresh lemon juice, to taste
- salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1. Rinse frozen fillet under running water for 1 minute to get rid of ice. Pat dry as much as possible with paper towels — the more moisture you remove, the less the fish will sputter like mad when it gets into the pan.
2. Heat 1½ Tbsp oil in a pan over medium heat. Place fillet inside, skin side down, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook over medium-high heat for 3 minutes. The skin will turn crispy and brown around the edges.
3. Flip fillet carefully and cook for 3 minutes on the second side so the flesh gets a chance to brown. Transfer to a plate, top with butter, squeeze with fresh lemon juice, and sprinkle with more salt and pepper as desired. Serve immediately.