How's your tolerance for spiciness?
My favorite tilapia recipe:
Marinate cleaned, eviscerated, and scored tilapia in key lime juice and thinly sliced white onion. Allow to marinate for two to three hours.
Heat a heavy pan until very hot. Add 1/4 cup vegetable oil. Pat the tilapia dry with paper towels. Shake tilapia in a plastic bag with salted flour. Fry tilapia until the flour coating is crispy and brown and the fish is nearly done.
While the fish is frying, thinly slice a large white onion. Seed and de-vein one or more habanero chiles, depending on your ability to eat really spicy food.
Remove fish from pan and sauté onion and chiles until soft. Return the fish to the pan and cover. Allow fish to 'sweat' over low heat for about five minutes.
Delicious. Hotter than the hinges of hell, but delicious.
This works well with any type of white fish. I've done it with Tilapia fillets with great success.
Sand Dabs Grenobloise
• 2 each Sand Dabs, Large -- or small flounder
• 1/2 cup flour
• 1 tsp sugar
• salt and pepper to taste
• 1/4 cup light olive oil -- to fry
• 3 tbs butter
• 1 each lemon -- peeled and cubed
• 1 tbl capers
• 1 tbl parsley chopped
• 1 each lemon -- quartered
• 2 each parsley small bunches
Dredge the fish in the seasoned flour*. Heat the oil in a pan, and fry the fish on each side, turning only once. You want the oil hot but not smoking. Olive oil becomes fragrant when it wants you to fry. You will want a spatula and a fork for this.
Remove the cooked fish to a plate garnished with parsley bunch and lemon wedges. Lower the heat, and dump any excess oil, add butter and when it foams and is just starting to brown, add the diced lemon and its juice, and the drained capers. It will seethe and froth, and the butter will brown, Add a dash of the caper vinegar, chopped parsley, and spoon it over the fish.
*Sugar in seasoned flour? Am I nuts? Well, yes I am, but it is a trick I learned in China. The sugar caramelizes when the fish is cooking, and the crust is darker and crisper. The amount given is approximate, as I was shown, "See, we toss a little sugar in the flour to make the fish crisp and brown." That's the way I do it, and you will have to learn like I did, a little at a time. Start with only a little, and as you gain experience, you can get braver, just like me.
Notes: Sand Dabs are a species of small flounder abundant on Long Island in the summer. They are not very meaty, but are very sweet. If they are small, you will need 2 per person. This also works well with baby bluefish, called snappers, or blue snappers, and butterfish. These are all inexpensive summertime fish. Kids love to catch them on a pole. Come to think of it, little sunnies (sunfish) can be prepared this way. It is basically a way to cook small fish that it doesn't pay to filet. Freshness is part of the recipe's appeal.