Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Pan Roasted Tilapia with Rosemary and Lemon

After fighting off a nasty cold for the better part of the week, I couldn't think of a better way to celebrate my newly returned senses of smell and taste with some nice, lighter aromatic fare. I'd intended to try Michael Symon's Fennel, Garlic and Rosemary poached halibut, but couldn't find any fennel. It also turned out that I'd apparently opted for the bag full of frozen tilapia, rather than the more expensive halibut at my last trip to Costco.

(Sidenote: Costco carries a varying selection of flash frozen, individual vacuum sealed frozen fish that retain fairly high quality for an extended period of time - can't recommend it enough if you're like me and don't always get around to preparing that fresh cut of meat or fish in a timely manner. The tuna's hit and miss, but I've gotten great results from mahi mahi, halibut, tilapia, grouper, sea bass, steelhead, and salmon).

Heating up the pan
So, I pulled out the fish to thaw, and lo and behold, I'd purchased Tilapia loins, rather than fillets. I kind of know my way around a cow or pig, but I'd never heard of fish loin before. Long story short, it was pretty long, not wide at all, and rather thick. Loin shaped, indeed. While I'd generally sauté tilapia fillet (a few minutes each side over medium in olive oil works pretty good for most preparations), I was concerned about cooking the loin all the through. This seemed like a good opportunity to test out some pan roasting techniques I'd been reading about of late.

So starting out with:

tilapia loin
olive oil
fresh garlic
Paul Prudhomme's Seafood Magic
fresh rosemary

Preheat your oven to 375 F.

Seasoned, and ready to go
In a loin-sized pan (I made do), heat up olive oil over medium-low (enough to cover the pan). Your goal is gently cook your fish, not fry the crap out of it. Hopefully, your fish has been cleaned properly, and crap shouldn't be an issue, but let's not take our chances. I added some fresh and garlic rosemary to the warming oil. This is supposed to infuse it with some nice flavors. After several minutes, squeeze some fresh lemon juice into the mix. If it starts boiling, you're probably pretty close to good to go. If not, let things warm up a bit.

About to go into the oven
Meanwhile, your fish should be patted dry (if wet, it can stick to the pan and scorch), and dusted on both sides with seasoning of choice. I used my favorite seafood go to - Paul Prudhomme's Seafood Magic. It's pretty straightforward from here - sauté for about 3 minutes on one side, until lightly browned, turn over, and stick the whole pan in the oven for 5 - 6 minutes to finish cooking (the technique I'd read suggested 3 - 5, but my oven generally runs slow/cool - fair warning). I was pretty impressed with the results; the fish was fork tender (unexpectedly so, as you can see from the pics) - moist, cooked through, perfectly done.

I served it on a bed of brown rice, with grill steamed asaparagus (15ish minutes in foil with lemon, pepper, sea salt) - was great meal - healthy and quick to make. And my whole kitchen smelled like rosemary for a day, so that was nice, too.

A bit mangled, but delicious!


  1. I rely on Costco's fish fillets especially for weeknights in our two-person household. Right now we're hooked on the salmon fillets generously doused with Old Bay and cooked on a grill pan. The only thing I don't like is the strong smell afterwards, ventilation notwithstanding!