Tilapia is a wonder food. Mild, adaptable, and plentiful, it cooks quickly and can be prepared in a variety of ways. My favorite method (and it’s the quickest) is to steam over low heat in a covered skillet. No oil, no batter, no breading…just a few seasonings like lemon pepper and/or garlic salt. Even frozen, it’s done within 10-15 minutes. Fresh cooks faster. When preparing a meal, I typically cook my tilapia last. I don’t want to risk overcooking it, and I certainly don’t want to serve it cold.
When you shop for tilapia, keep in mind the recommendations of the Monterrey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch. Buy farmed-in-USA if available. Aquaculture is suited to the tilapia, making it a sustainable fish. If USA isn’t available, buy from Costa Rica, Equador, Honduras, or Brazil farms. Do not buy tilapia farmed in China or Taiwan! (For more information, consult the Monterrey Bay Aquarium Watch List.)
Tilapia is not a new fish. It’s most plentiful in Africa and the Middle East and is believed to be the fish Saint Peter caught. In the miracle of the loaves and fishes (Matthew 14:15-21) Jesus served the crowd of 5,000 from two tilapia and five loaves of bread. Bible scholars also believe tilapia was abundant in the Sea of Galilee (Lake of Tiberius) and would’ve been the fish Jesus served his disciples when He revealed Himself after the resurrection. That’s why some refer to tilapia as either Jesus’ fish or Saint Peter’s fish.
All I know is it’s delicious and nutritious, perfect for a Hasty Tasty Meal!
The best meals are often the simplest. Take grilled salmon, for example. When my husband and I want to splurge on a meal to celebrate, we browse the seafood counter at Publix and select something extravagant. We’re still paying only half what the meal would cost in a restaurant, and that’s not including tips or cocktails. ☺
Grilled Salmon Fillets for Two
- 2 salmon fillets, approximately 5-6 ounces each
- 1 zucchini squash cut into ribbons (I use my SpiraLife)
- 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp. lemon zest
- ¼ sweet onion, julienned
- 1 sweet pepper, julienned
- 1 Tbsp. Herbes de Provence
- 1 clove garlic, grated
- salt and pepper to taste
- (optional) fresh basil sprigs
- Place zucchini, onion, and pepper in a small (1-quart) saucepan over low heat. If you aren’t using waterless cookware, be sure to add at least a Tbsp. water. Salt and pepper to taste. Cover and cook 10-15 minutes.
- Preheat cast iron grill pan over medium heat.
- Combine olive oil, herbs, garlic, lemon zest, salt, and pepper. Rub both sides of each fillet.
- Place fillets in preheated grill pan and immediately lower heat. Position the thinner portions of each fillet toward the edge of the pan, farther from the center of heat source to avoid overcooking. Time for five minutes.
- Carefully turn each fillet using a spatula. Time for an additional five minutes.
- After five minutes, check the thickest part of the salmon for doneness. Do not overcook. If the fish has turned a lighter shade of pink, immediately remove pan from heat. If the middle appears raw, cook for a couple minutes more, taking care not to overcook the salmon.
- Remove zucchini mixture from heat. Using tongs, divide the vegetable noodles and place on two plates.
- Plate the salmon beside the “noodles.” Garnish with a sprig of fresh basil if desired. Serve immediately with your choice of roll and beverage.
I recommend buying wild caught in USA salmon rather than farm-raised.
You don’t have to deep-fry fish to get a crunchy coating. I pan fried catfish fillets in just one tablespoon of safflower oil, and my family gave me rave reviews. Crispy without tasting greasy, this method also works on chicken tenders.
Crispy Fried Fish
- 4 4-5 oz. fillets of catfish or any firm white fish
- 1 Tbsp. safflower oil
- 1 egg
- ¼ cup flour
- ½ cup Panko bread crumbs
- 2 Tbsp. grated cheese (I use Parmesan, but cheddar works, too)
- 1 tsp. Kosher salt
- ¼ tsp. freshly ground pepper
- Preheat a large cast iron skillet over medium heat.
- Salt and pepper the fish.
- Beat one egg. Set up a breading station with flour, egg wash, and bread crumbs.
- Mix the cheese in with the bread crumbs.
- Add oil to the skillet.
- Dredge fish fillets in flour first, then egg wash, then bread crumbs/cheese mixture. Be sure fish is covered thoroughly.
- Place each fillet in the hot oil. Do not move. Cook, uncovered for at least five minutes or until fish browns along the edges.
- Carefully turn each fillet and cook an additional 5 minutes.
- Plate and serve immediately.
Fried fish doesn’t have to be greasy!
Stuck for a hasty, tasty, and healthful entree? My standby is salmon croquettes. I keep a couple of cans of premium wild Alaskan pink salmon in my pantry. Similar to crab cakes, croquettes are nutritious and also a good way to stretch your grocery dollars.
I learned to make salmon croquettes when I was 18. My recipe and method has changed little through the years. Here it is:
- 1 14.75 oz. can salmon
- 8-10 saltines, crushed
- 1 Tbsp. finely chopped onion
- 1 Tbsp. finely chopped sweet pepper
- 1 egg, beaten
- nonstick cooking spray
- Drain canned salmon of liquid. Bones are optional–leave them in or remove them. (I usually pull them out and eat them before I cook).
- Combine drained salmon, crushed saltines, onion, pepper, and egg in a 1 quart bowl or measuring pitcher.
- Preheat a large cast iron skillet (or a stainless steel griddle) over medium.
- Using your hands, form 9 or 10 small patties of the salmon mixture.
- Spray skillet with cooking spray.
- Carefully brown both sides of the croquettes, turning them once after about five minutes. (If too browned, reduce heat).
- Serve with your choice of vegetables.
Salmon croquettes served with steamed broccoli and herbed carrots.