Sicilian Tilapia with Basilico Pomodora Sauce

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wwltv.com

Posted on June 23, 2011 at 3:55 PM

 

Ingredients for the fish:

6 fresh tilapia fillets
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp. salt and pepper mix
2 tsp. garlic bread seasoning (or garlic powder)
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese


 

First, heat a heavy, 12-inch, non-stick grill pan, which you've lightly coated with olive oil. Then, while the pan is coming up to about a medium high temperature, place the tilapia fillets on a sheet of freezer wrap on the countertop and pat them super-dry with a couple of layers of paper towels. Now liberally brush each one on both sides with the remaining olive oil, sprinkle each one lightly with the salt and pepper mix and the garlic bread seasoning, and delicately scatter on a coating of Parmesan cheese.

Then place the fillets into the hot grill pan, lower the heat to medium, cover with a tight-fitting lid, and sauté the fish until thoroughly browned on one side. At that point, gently flip the fillets over with a spatula. Cover the pan again and brown the fish equally on the opposite side. When they are perfectly cooked (toasty on the outside yet barely flaky on the inside), carefully remove them to a warming platter and begin making the sauce.
 

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Ingredients for the sauce:

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
4 cups fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
6 sprigs of fresh basil, julienned
1 tsp. Frank Davis Sicilian Seasoning
2 tsp. salt and black pepper mix
2 tsp. fresh garlic, minced

Start off by taking a 4-quart, non-stick Dutch oven and heating the olive until sizzling. Then drop in the fresh tomatoes and sauté them-stirring continually-until they soften and practically liquefy. At this point, add the basil, the Sicilian seasoning, the salt and black pepper, and the minced garlic and stir everything together until fully blended. Now reduce the heat to low, cover the pot tightly, and gently simmer the concoction until it becomes silky and smooth (which should take about as much time as it takes to make the potato pancakes).

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Ingredients for the potato pancakes:

½ cup extra virgin olive oil
4 medium potatoes, peeled and grated
1 large yellow onion, grated
1 tsp. salt and black pepper mix
1/8 tsp. fresh-ground nutmeg
2 whole eggs, whipped to a froth
1/3 cup sour cream

 

Again, using a low-sided non-stick grill pan or griddle, coat the bottom with a scant amount of olive oil and bring it up to medium-high heat. While that's happening, mix together in a large stainless steel or glass bowl the grated potatoes (make sure they are well drained and even patted dry with paper towels), the grated onion, the salt and pepper mix, the nutmeg, the eggs, and the sour cream. In fact, you want to take a little extra time to make certain the blend is totally uniform, otherwise the pancakes will not hold together and will come out looking like hashbrowns.

Then when you're ready to cook, take a chef's spoon and pour out a portion of the potato mixture onto the griddle (you want each pancake to be about the size of a drink coaster). Note: When you place the potatoes onto the griddle, use the back of the spoon to spread out the mixture and create a thin layer. Then, over medium-high heat, pan-fry the pancakes on one side until they become crispy and golden brown. At that point, flip them over with a metal spatula and brown the opposite side.

Place the cooked pancakes on a warming platter alongside the tilapia while you heat up the vegetable medley.
 

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Ingredients for the vegetable medley:

6 cups mixed vegetables, frozen and cut
6 cups water
3 Tbsp. Frank Davis Seafood Boil Seasoning
1/3 cup melted butter (or margarine)
¾ cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated

 

In a 5-quart glass or anodized Dutch oven, bring 6 cups of water to a rolling boil. Then stir in 3 tablespoons of granular seafood boil (more if you want it spicier) until fully dissolved and drop in the mixed veggies, taking time to make sure that they fully settle into the poaching stock.
Then, when the water comes back to a boil, cook the medley for about 3 minutes at a full roll. But. . .when the time has transpired, turn off the fire, take the pot off the burner, put the lid in place, and allow the veggies to steep until they reach the stage of "tender-crisp" (lightly cooked but not too soft).

When the medley is ready, drain off the poaching stock and while still steaming hot lightly toss the veggies with the melted butter and the Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.
 

Editor's Notes:

All that's left now is to dish up a tilapia filet, cover it liberally with the basil/pomodora sauce, stack a couple of potato pancakes next to the fish, and top off the meal with a couple of heaping spoonfuls of buttered vegetables. As I said in the opening. . .that's fine dining, suh!

Chef's Hints

Tilapia are a mild-flavored, firm, white fish used extensively in commercial fish farming. In recent years, they have become available in most seafood markets and grocery stores and have surpassed the catfish as a preferred seafood specialty. More information in Louisiana is available by calling Tracy Mitchell at the Louisiana Seafood Marketing and Promotion Board in New Orleans, or by contacting David Wilkerson at the New Orleans Fish House.

Combining either iodized, sea, or Kosher salt with coarse-ground black pepper makes salt and pepper mix. The correct proportions are one-half as much pepper as salt. For added spice, garlic powder and onion powder can also be stirred into the mixture.

McCormick's makes garlic bread seasoning. You can find it in the spice aisles of most major supermarkets.

Parmigiano Reggiano is one of the highest quality "Parmesan" cheese varieties on the market. It is the primo version of imported Italian cheeses and should be grated fresh as needed for recipes to retain its remarkable flavor intensity.

To peel tomatoes and seed them drop them into several cups of rapidly boiling water and roll them around until the outer skin cracks. This takes but a few moments to occur. The tomatoes should then be set aside until cool enough to handle. At that point, the outer covering peels right off. To seed, slice the tomatoes crosswise and squeeze each half in your hand. The seeds will drop out, leaving only the tasty pulp to be used in seed-free sauce recipes.

If you can't find my Sicilian Seasoning and Granular Seafood Boil where you shop, you can order it from this website by clicking on the Frank Davis icon.

To make traditional and authentic potato pancakes, you should grate both the potatoes and the onions on a hand grater. The more "shredded" the consistency, the better the texture of the finished pancakes. And by the way, use only scant amounts of olive oil when pan-frying them. You don't want to deep-fry!

Finally, to ensure the best texture and the richest taste, buy only the highest quality frozen vegetables you can find. This is one time to stay with name brands. It has been my experience over the years that the generic stuff, in this case, usually produces a mushy end product that is totally unacceptable. I recommend that you try several brands until you find the one you like best.

 

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