FISH FRIDAY! Tilapia with Lemon-Basil Sauce
When I cook fish, I treat it very simply. No marinades, no fancy rubs, no intricate sauces. I want to allow the natural flavor of the fish to come through and then just to enhance it slightly – like I have here with some lemon juice and fresh basil.
The key with fish is to get the best kind you can. I have tilapia here, which is a really mild fish that doesn’t have much flavor, but tastes great because of the cooking technique and supporting players. If snapper is good the day you go to the market, get that. If it’s halibut, get that. The idea is, get the freshest fish they have that day and let the natural flavors come through.
The fish is cut into small pieces and then pan seared to a nice golden brown. It is incredibly flaky and juicy. The lemon basil sauce gives the fish some acidity and lusciousness that this mild fish really needs. The fresh basil gives the whole dish some pop and is a great herb to use. Parsely, chives, or cilantro could be substituted readily.
Pan Seared Tilapia with Lemon Basil Sauce (serves 4)
(Recipe courtesy of Vivek Surti)
4 filets of tilapia (about 1 pound), or the freshest fish you have available at the market
2 T butter
1 T extra virgin olive oil
1 lemon, juiced
6-7 leaves of basil, cut into chiffonade or sliced
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Take the tilapia filets and cut them down the middle, so you have two big “fish sticks”. Cut each fish stick into 3 pieces. So you should have 6 pieces per filet. Season these with salt and pepper.
Get a nonstick 10 inch fry pan set over medium high heat. Add 1 T of butter and 1/2 T of olive oil to the pan and let heat up. Once the butter starts foaming, add the tilapia pieces, making sure not to overcrowd the pan, about 6 at a time. Cook for about 2-3 minutes on one side until nice and golden brown (like the picture below). Flip over and cook for another 2-3 minutes until cooked through. Remove the fish to a plate and continue cooking the rest of the fish.
Once all the fish is cooked, add the lemon juice into the pan. Then add the butter. Season the sauce with salt and pepper. At the very end, add the basil leaves to the sauce and stir to infuse the flavor. Pour over the tilapia and serve.
This is a great fish recipe to have in your arsenal! What do you all think?