Made a cup of some delicious apricot tea, pulled out the makeshift outdoor table and brought the electronics outside. And where’s my spoiled dog? Chillin’ inside the house. I will never understand dogs. Ever.
So December was ridiculously busy for me this year. Between the day job and my event internship, there were two weeks where I was working 18 hour days every day. So there was not much cooking happening. Lots of “Hey babe, you thinkin’ pizza tonight? Ya me too.” phone calls. First time I’ve felt like a college kid since moving here. That, as well as dealing with a bit of writer’s block led to no blogging.
But, It’s January and I have no events until FEBRUARY. I feel like I’m going to go crazy. So there will probably be much more blogging and definitely more cooking. I have loads to tell ya’ll! I’ve begun to plan my new garden, started Dixie on a raw food diet, and it’s slowly getting warmer, which means it’s almost planting time!!! But more on all that later.
So this recipe comes from my mom…sort of. My family loves Costco and all their frozen deliciousness. One of our favorite frozen quick meals from this glorious place is called “Tortilla Crusted Tilapia.” They don’t look like much coming out of the package, but holy crap are they good. Well, since moving 3 hours from home I have lost my Costco privileges, and that tilapia just sounded soooooo good.
So I made a trip to the most magical place on earth, H-E-B, and rounded up the few things I didn’t have to make me some fish. And besides kitchen staples, this is literally all I needed from the store:
Just the fish (cheap), cilantro (super cheap), jalapenos (cheapish), limes, and Tortilla chips (could have been cheaper.)
If you have by chance had the Costco original, you will notice mine have more of a crust and less of a breading. This is intentional. I really liked having more of a crunch with the fish, which tends to be a little mushy sometimes , being that tilapia is such a thin fillet.
So, first we Mise en Place. (Which is a fancy culinary term for get all your crap prepped and ready to go so you don’t get halfway through your recipe and go “Oh NO! We have to run to the store!”) We start with cleaning a few jalapenos. I did not find this spicy AT ALL and I used 2 medium sized peppers. I will probably use more next time, but that’s all on you. Two would be plenty for just a mild spice. So, to clean your jalapeno, slice once lengthwise in half. Now take a spoon and scoop out all the seeds and the white ribs. Julienne (meaning to slice into “matchstick” size pieces), and dice finely, nearly a mince, but you still want some pieces. Toss that into a medium bowl.
On to the cilantro. To prep this, take the whole bunch in your left hand, knife in the other, and point the bunch towards your cutting board as if you were using is like a paint brush, at a 45 degree angle. Now place your knife at a 45 degree angle at the base of where the leaves start and shave the leaves form the bunch. Twist the bunch as you shear the leaves. I just did about a handful. Then wad the leaves under your hand tightly and pushing them forward chop them finely. put a few tablespoons in the bowl with the jalapeno, and set the rest aside.
Now to the limes. Citrus is one of my favorite things to incorporate into dishes. What’s better than getting two ingredients out of one purchase? Nothing. Absolutely nothing! So what we will do is grab a microplane, or the smallest grater you have, and zest the entire lime directly into the bowl, being careful to avoid grating the pit in there. That’s the white just below the zest. It’s bitter and gross.
Now slice your lime in half and juice. Set the juice aside. If your lime is pretty hard, help it out a bit by tossing it into the microwave for 10 seconds to get the juices flowing. you can also press and roll it on your cutting board if you’re really worried.
Next, prepare the chips! And cue adorable cooking show TV host saying, “And your kids will LOVE this!” Fill a gallon Ziploc bag mostly full with the whole chips. (I swear this was my measuring system.) And with a rolling pin or your hands or any enthusiastic small children you have them on hand, crush them to bits! Your bits can be more fine than mine were, or not, that’s totally up to you. The larger bits don’t dredge on the fish very well, but the do make a nice crunchy crust. Mine were still fairly large.
Dump bits into the bowl with all the green stuff, and stir. Add about a tablespoon of lime juice so the mixture is slightly damp. Add a little salt, taste, and set aside.
Next, go ahead and preheat your oven to 375, and set out your THAWED fish fillets. Douse each one with olive oil and rub to coat. Salt with kosher salt and a little garlic powder. Rub to coat. Flip and repeat on other side.
Now, put the tortilla chip mixture into a plate or a flat dish and spread it evenly. Prep a half sheet pan with a silicon mat if you have one, or a layer of nonstick spray if you don’t. Press each side of each fillet into the mixture. If you did big pieces like I did, just a little will stick to the fish, but that’s OK. After you get as many bits as possible to adhere to your fillets, arrange them on your pan. They can be nearly shoulder to shoulder, that’s completely fine. Now, take the remaining mixture and distribute it onto the tops of your fillets. Do as much or as little as you like. Pour remaining lime juice over each fillet.
Toss those babies into that 375 oven for about 15-20 minutes. Check them with a fork, they should be white and just barely translucent and flaky.
And there you have it! I served this with steamed broccoli and Parmesan risotto.
Tortilla Crusted Tilapia
– 1-2 Jalapenos, diced
– 1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped fine
– 1 lime, zested and juiced
– 2 cups crushed tortilla chips
– 5 tilapia fillets
– Garlic Powder
– Olive Oil
Preheat oven to 375.
Combine jalapenos, cilantro, lime zest, crushed chips, salt, and 1 Tbsp lime juice in a medium bowl, mix to combine.
Coat each fillet in olive oil, salt and garlic powder to taste. Dredge in chip mixture and arrange on greased half sheet pan. Top fillets with remaining chip mixture, and disperse the remaining lime juice on top of the fillets.
Bake for 20 minutes or until flaky and translucent on the inside.
Yield: 5 Fillets
So there you have it. A pretty simple, easy weeknight dinner from scratch! You’re Welcome.