When my husband Meakin offered to cook dinner the other night, I asked, “What can I do to help?” “Nothing,” he said. That was much too good of an offer to pass up, don’t you think?
But you should also know that Meakin is a great cook. If you’ve been reading my blog for a long time, you know that when we first married I could barely boil water. Meakin showed me the basics of cooking and encouraged me to buy cookbooks and give it a try. He even offered another deal I couldn’t refuse: if you cook something and it’s awful, we’ll go out to eat. Who could pass up an offer like that, so here I am umpteen years later with food as my favorite hobby. I also might add we haven’t had to go out but a couple of times in all these years because of a cooking disaster.
He had been anxious to try coating fish with nuts since we’ve seen nut-crusted this and that on restaurant menus for a long time. I had cut a recipe for pecan-crusted trout from a Cooking Light magazine and he used that as a basis. Here’s a link to the original version. The recipe used ground nuts and Panko bread crumbs for the crust. Meakin substituted tilapia for the trout, added two additional steps by dusting the fish with flour first and dipping it in a beaten egg before he coated it with the nuts and bread crumbs. To finish the dish, he made a simple caper butter sauce, which is optional. If you are counting calories, feel free to omit it. He used pecans, but you could certainly use walnuts or almonds. This meal can easily be made in 30 minutes if you include simple side dishes such as orzo with Parmesan and parsley and steamed asparagus.
Adapted from Cooking Light magazine
All-purpose flour for dusting fish
1 egg, beaten to blend
¼ cup finely ground pecans
¼ cup Panko bread crumbs, unflavored
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 (6-ounce) tilapia fillets
1 – 2 tablespoons canola oil
Salt and pepper the fish, coat lightly with flour and dip in a beaten egg. Combine the pecans and bread crumbs and dredge fish in nut mixture. Heat the canola oil over medium heat in a non-stick skillet large enough to accommodate the fish. Do not crowd the fish and, if necessary, cook in batches. Place the fish in the pan and cook, turning once, until fish flakes easily with a fork. Remove the fish, cover and keep warm. Serves four.
Optional Butter Caper Sauce
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
Splash of dry white wine
1 tablespoon drained small capers
Squeeze of fresh lime juice
Discard the oil in the skillet and wipe clean. Add the unsalted butter to the skillet and heat over medium heat until it just starts to brown. Add a splash of dry white wine and a tablespoon of drained capers and continue to cook until the butter is brown. Pour over fish fillets, then squeeze a bit of fresh lemon juice on them, and serve immediately.