In Manila, we buy fresh fish directly from fish vendors in public markets. The fish are usually all laid out on the counters in front of scrutinizing buyers, not behind glass cases like in most groceries around here. The freshest fish experience I had was in Marinduque, a small island in the Philippines where my sister-in-law and her family are from. Her brother (who sadly passed away a few years ago) owned some property on one of the big islands where we had a chance to stay for a few days. Every morning, a fisherman would dock his boat (loaded with just caught fish that were still jumping) right by her brother's home on the island and deliver his catch. They just simply fried them up for breakfast, served them with steamed rice, sliced tomatoes and some vinegary dip. I still remember the fish were extra tasty cooked this way, they were so fresh they had a tinge of sweetness to them. With fresh fish always available in the local markets, we never buy and cook frozen fish in the Philippines though many supermarkets there sell them frozen now. But here, frozen and individually packaged tilapia fillets are so convenient and are always a sure hit for our Friday fish dinners. Although it has been a challenge looking for different recipes for tilapia (I love the internet for this) I must admit, tilapia is such a versatile fish. I've cooked it many different ways and so far, we've never had anything we didn't enjoy. This delicate tilapia dish is just one of the many recipes I've tried from the Food Network. This one was from celebrity chef Giada's Everyday Italian cooking show. I was searching for recipes as well as new ideas and I was happy to have found this. I read the reviews with an almost 100% excellent rating so I guess there's no better way to find put if it's true or not than to try it right away. We definitely agree with the reviews! This was excellent, very easy, flavorful and healthy! The lemon vinaigrette was a fresh burst of summer flavors and complemented the light and flaky tilapia quite well. Giada's recipe called for a side of sauteed radicchio and cannelini beans, both of which I didn't have, so I substituted baby lima beans and served the pan-fried fish fillets on a bed of mixed colorful veggies instead. Any desired veggie side dish may be tried, I've also done a couscous and asparagus side dish for this. A little lemon vinaigrette was drizzled over the fish while the rest was served on the side for an extra helping. This fish dish sealed the deal, we're definitely tilapia fans forever.
Prepare the fish fillets for pan-frying by seasoning them with a little salt & pepper on both sides and dredging them with flour. Shake off excess flour leaving only a very thin coating. Heat olive oil in non-stick pan and sautee fish until slightly browned but not overcooked.
2 tsps. lemon zest
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup fresh parsley or fresh basil leaves
2-3 cloves garlic
salt & pepper to taste
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
In a food processor or blender, mix together lemon juice, lemon zest, basil leaves, garlic, salt & pepper. Process until smooth then slowly pour in olive oil until well blended. May be made a day ahead and kept in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Note: It was easier for me to use the food processor than a blender. The ingredients may also be very finely minced then mixed together. Then whisk in the olive oil until well blended.