Jim and I don’t eat a lot of fish. With the exception of shellfish, Jim doesn’t like the taste, bones, or texture of most seafood, especially “fishy fish,” and I never have excessive cravings for it either. But in an attempt to mix up our weekly dinner menu and continue with our “Healthy Living in 2007” (kind of a take-2 of the unfortunately-aborted “Healthy Living in 2006”), we recently decided to experiment with what are, to us,  somewhat fearsome creatures.

And so a few weeks ago we wandered into Fish Tales, our local fish store.  After a really scientific conversation with our fishmonger regarding “fishiness,” we walked out with two tilapia fillets. Our fish guy had advised us to create some sort of citrus marinade, but after perusing our Gourmet cookbook, we decided to blacken the fillets,because really, why actually taste the fish? Just cover the things up with some spices, powders, and crinkly little leaves and go from there.

We had all the necessary spices in our pantry: paprika, oregano, thyme, cayenne, sugar, salt, and black pepper. All we needed to do was slather the little guys up, saute some garlic in olive oil, remove the cloves, add some butter, and finally, saute the fish.

The fillets came out surprisingly well, with the spice combination creating a thin crust surrounding the fish’s mild, gentle flesh. Jim and I were very pleased with ourselves. Who’s afraid of fish now? 

This week I returned to Fish Tales and bought two more tilapia fillets. I swung my bag casually in the air as I walked home, a confident smile on my face. This time I whipped up a marinade of olive oil, fresh orange juice, shallots, and fresh parsley. I marinated the fillets for about half an hour, then sauteed them in a little butter and olive oil.

I wasn’t thrilled with the final results. The fillets didn’t take on the taste of the marinade very strongly, and the fish itself wound up a little soggy. I hope one day to repeat the glory of the blackened fillets, but I’m feeling rather discouraged. It’s obvious the experimentation must continue. If anyone has any advice or interesting recipes, let me know.


1 Response so far »

  1. 1

    Cheryl said,

    Congrats on experimenting with fish! We are big fans of fish, but like to steer clear of really strong tasting fish like mackerel. One of my favorites is the suddenly ubiquitous Mediterranean sea bass, branzino. As a fish lover, I’m not sure if this is a “fishy fish” for the novice, but I felt the need to share one of favorite standbys…

    I totally stole this from a great dish I tasted at Prune. It’s very simple. I rub the whole fish (ok, well, when you’re ready for that) with lavender, coriander seeds, thyme, coarse salt, coarsely ground black (once I did pink peppercorns) pepper and olive oil. Then I grill it up. Really, for me, I don’t think it’s so much the combination of spices and herbs (though I do love the lavender and coriander seeds), as it is the crunchiness of the salt and coarsely ground spices. Very healthy and totally delicious!!!!

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