Wednesday, July 27, 2011

2011 Epiphanies - day 4 (the "recipe whisperer is still in")

I have a sneaky suspicion I put this photo up before, but I can't find it. This week's epiphanies are about things that have happened to my culinary world during 2011 (so far - after all, it ain't over yet). The fish you see there is tilapia. It could just as easily have been catfish. When shallow fried they look (and taste) a lot alike. The epiphany is simply that I have discovered how much more simpler certain things can be.

Tilapia in its natural state is relatively consistent in its thickness. Catfish is less so - unless you buy individually wrapped frozen filets, which I did the other day. They are smaller and thinner. When you take either of these fish and season them with salt, pepper and some paprika, then dredge them in flour, dip them in egg (laced with hot sauce if you like), and then press agressively into breadcrumbs (please, oh please do not use those Italian flavored ones); you then shallow fry (1/8 inch vegetable oil in a large skillet) them for 1 1/2 minutes on each side.

The last secret is that the oil has to be super hot. When you flick a drop of water into it and it pops instantly, you're still not ready. Wait one more minute. Carefully slip the filets into the oil. When you've cooked both sides, drain them on paper towels for a minute, dabbing the top with a towel as well. They will have absorbed the tiniest amount of oil. You could make a dip for this, but we don't bother.
There it is, another epiphany. In part I thank for encouraging me to give tilapia a chance at legitimacy. It won me over. It's not the most nutritious fish out there (lacking in omega 3's), but it's inexpensive and, when spiced up nicely, is fun to eat. We'll be having it again.
The "recipe whisperer" is in for a couple more days. I'm working on the whole grain pasta idea with a little help from my friends. Nobody out there seems to make menudo. I had hoped for some inspiration to try it at home. I've been given two suggestions for red cabbage. I will try them and report the results in coming days. In response to a request for help with liver I have come up with a couple of thoughts. I'm working through them, but will not forget to share at the right time.


MaryBeth said...

We love Tilapia at our house, we enjoy it in many ways.

Jenn said...

YAY FOR TILAPIA :) I enjoyed our little "throwdown" ... thank you!
By the way, I have a friend at work that is Mexican - I asked him how he felt about menudo and he reacted like I did. LOL He said his mom used to make it all the time - I'll see if he has a recipe or if one of his brothers does.

Mary said...

So you caved :-). I've never been worried about the flavor of the fish I use, if I'm going to bread it. Fresh tilapia is wonderful because it can be prepared and sauced in so many way. Cat fish I've found to be a bit trickier. Have a great day. Blessings...Mary

Pam said...

I love tilapia and I am glad you gave it another try.

Michael Toa said...

I like tilapia and I'm glad you like it too now. Try using panko breadcrumbs for extra crunch. I look forward to your report in the coming days about the red cabbage :)

Chris said...

The only problem that I have with tilapia is that, well, it is fish. If god or Darwin had intended me to eat fish, they would have been created/evolved with 4 legs and moo, oink, or cluck! (ha ha)

You share some great tips here and I do MAKE fish for my family. (just don't eat it)

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