Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Art of Cooking 1 - Garlic Lemon Tilapia

Hello my creative friends! Today was a good day, lots of beautiful sunshine and a sweet breeze in the air. I went to the market with fish in mind for our dinner, and found these beautiful tilapia fillets that were calling my name. I have my favorite Cajun dry rub that I usually use with fish, but once I got home, I thought I'd go looking around the web for some good tilapia recipes.

First I found this recipe for Sautéed Tilapia with White Wine & Lemon Sauce. It sounded delightful, but I didn't have any shallots. I looked around for an onion, but I was all out. I did have some garlic though, and I wondered how that would fare with the other ingredients instead of shallots. So I did what I always do when I'd like a second opinion - I turn to the Etsy forums!

I started this thread in Etc. asking the community what they thought. I got some great suggestions and advice, and though I think the recipe would work ok for us (being garlic lovers), it would have done the recipe a disservice as the shallots mellow flavor compliments the other ingredients and the garlic would end up really dominating the dish. I went back to the grindstone looking for a new recipe with these search words: garlic, lemon, tilapia. That's when I found this recipe for Lemon Garlic Tilapia. One of the reviewers on had some great suggestions for slightly altering the recipe for the best results. I took a little bit of the original, a little bit of the suggestions, and made a few alterations of my own.

Considering how loaded with garlic this ended up being, I've changed the name to Garlic Lemon Tilapia! A very helpful Etsian from the Etsy thread, inediblejewelry, suggested that I take a picture of the finished dish. I decided to photograph the whole process and it was so much fun! I think I'm going to make this a regular thing. Maybe once a week or every other week I can do a new "Art of Cooking" post to share new recipes. I'd really like to challenge myself when it comes to cooking. I've got my old standards that are wearing a little thin these days, and there's just too many great dishes out there to not try new things. It's fun to share my findings with others, but I also really like that I can refer back to these posts to remember my favorite (and least favorite) new dishes and how I made them.

Now, onto making Garlic Lemon Tilapia!

I began with four fillets of tilapia. You'll also need 1 lemon, butter, non stick cooking spray (probably not essential), garlic, salt, pepper, and parsley if you've got it (fresh is best!).

First I washed the fillets and patted them dry with a paper towel, then put them in a baking dish sprayed with non stick cooking oil. Salt and ground pepper those bad boys.

Meanwhile, I melted about 5 tablespoons of butter (which is a lot more than the recipe called for based on the reviewer's recommendation) on very low heat in this small pot. I minced 3 large cloves of garlic (like I said, we aren't afraid of garlic!) and tossed them into the melted butter. I just wanted the garlic to cook long enough to get soft. There's nothing worse than burnt garlic, so I stirred this pretty constantly for a few minutes until it looked like this - the little bubbles surrounding each chunk of garlic releasing that amazing aroma.

This picture is terrible, but the next step was to squeeze the full lemon into a measuring cup, take out the seeds, then pour over the fish. Then I poured the butter/garlic mixture over the fish and it was ready to go into the oven, pre heated to 400 degrees. (I should add, I was down to the bottom of a jar of dried parsley I sprinkled on top, that on second thought, I shouldn't have even bothered with - unless it's fresh parsley, I wouldn't bother). In about ten minutes it was done!

And here is the finished dish, complete with a glass of chilled white wine, summer squash, and steamed spinach with balsamic vinegar. Even though it was loaded with garlic, it wasn't overwhelming and the lemon flavor was perfectly balanced with the buttery garlic goodness.

I will definitely be making this again. Next time I think I'll reduce the butter to just 4 tablespoons and I'll have fresh parsley on hand. Other than that, I don't think I'd change a thing!


Anonymous said...

Gotta admit Jess. You have more energy then me that's for sure. The only thing that I cook is microwave meals. That's not REALLY cooking either..hehehe

chef jess said...

This sounds fantastic! I'm so excited that you photographed the whole process, and am happy that it came out so well. ~Jessica

Walk in the Woods said...

Mmmmmm . . .

Walk in the Woods said...

Hi Jessica,

I am awarding you with The Brilliante Weblog Award. :) Read today's entry in my blog to learn more and - in the spirit of empowerment - do with it as you will!

Martha Marshall said...

Yum, Jessica! You're an artist in the kitchen too!!