So I am back with another ingredient on my rediscovery radar… the Tilapia fish!
It seems to be quite THE thing now. When I googled it out of curiosity for a fish name that sounded familiar, I was amazed by the tons of recipes it threw up – from grills to bakes to taco bowls to what not!
Although not the preferred option because of its undesirable habitat (labeled ‘trash fish‘ due to frequent off-flavours), it would be Mom’s Plan B for those days when the Rohu or Katla were not fresh enough – or of the right size! – in the local fish market. As a result, I remember having this fish many times back home, made the Bengali way with Kaalo Jeere (Nigela seeds) or Kalia (spicy tomato gravy) or even Shorshe Bata (Mustard Sauce). It is a mild-flavoured fish, and so would take on the flavours of the curries beautifully, and, of course, with Ma’s magical cooking, would be lip-smackingly delicious!
Nowadays, the Tilapia is hot property in the west. It is not only one of top 5 favourite fish fillets on American dinner tables (read more here…), it is also the topic of heated debate due to unhygienic breeding practices. A recent study even labeled the Tilapia as ‘worse than bacon’! As if that’s going to stop me from having either 😜
So, last night I decided to make an easy 10-minute Blackened Tilapia dinner, rubbed with a Cajun Spice Mix (here’s Kitchen Magpie’s quick home recipe) and pan seared, and as a homage to my first encounter with the fish many years ago, added a ‘home’ twist with slices of the fragrant and unique Gondhoraj lemon 😃
The fish tasted great, with a nice crispy-flaky texture, and cooked very quickly. Add these benefits to the joy of rediscovering an ingredient all over again, and it definitely calls for the Tilapia being a staple on my ‘no-brainer dinners’ list now onwards.
Note to myself – Need to check on the source of the fish before buying 👍