I've said it before and I will say it again....I just don't eat fish as often as I should. I blame it, in part, on the fact that I have lived out my life thus far in the somewhat land locked middle of the country...far from either ocean. Sure, Lake Erie is right to the North of me...but fresh water fish, let alone Lake Erie fresh water fish, doesn't excite me much. There is no great fish monger within any good distance from my home, or at least one I am aware of, and fresh fish in the grocery store? Um...no thanks. ( with the exception of Whole Foods, if there was one closer to me ) So I am forced to choose from the slim varieties of frozen fish available to me...mostly tilapia, salmon, cod or sometimes, haddock. Cod, tilapia and haddock basically all taste very similar. Then there is the skin and bone issue....no thanks on either. Oh , and please, don't taste too fishy...lol... So I guess when it comes to fish, I am kind of picky.
Don't get me wrong...I try to experiment with different kinds of fish when I go out to a restaurant or travel to the coast. ( Yet I always worry about the skin and bone issue I have!) But I seem stifled when wanting to prepare fish at home. One fish I like to buy and prepare, is the tilapia loin. It can be elusive, no doubt. Fortunately, Costco carries it. I like the loin because it has virtually none of the dark flesh which can tend to taste very fishy. ( Remember, not too fishy?) It is thick and meaty...and I have yet to discover a rouge bone in one. ( I hoped I haven't jinxed myself with that last statement!) The tilapia loin is very mild tasting and not priced too outrageously, but I seem to get stuck in a rut preparing it the same way over and over again.
So I browsed the internet looking for inspiration. I don't even remember where I saw the idea of mixing panko bread crumbs and nut meal together to make a crust, so I am sorry, I can't give credit...but the creation I ended up making, really was out of my head and what I had available to me in my pantry and freezer. I could not have been more pleased with the result. So simple, yet so delicious. So easy you can hardly call it a recipe. I used almond meal I had in my freezer, I had picked up from Trader Joe's, but you could easily make your own by grinding up the almonds in a food processor. A word of warning though, the almond meal and panko brown VERY QUICKLY...so use med heat only. Brown the outside on the stovetop, then finish cooking fish in the oven on a wire rack over a sheet pan.
Almond Crusted Tilapia
Servings - 4 Serving Size - 1 - 4oz. pc of fish Points Plus per Serving - 6 points+
Calories - 243.2, Total Fat - 11.8g, Carb. - 10.2g, Protein - 25g, Fiber - 0.7g
4 - 4 oz. each tilapia loins or filets, defrosted if previously frozen
1/4 cup to 1/2 cup eggbeaters ( you won't use all of them )
3/4 cup unseasoned panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup almond meal ( finely ground almonds)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 tsp lemon zest ( optional )
2 TBS olive oil, for browning
1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Position wire rack ontop of sheet pan. Spray with cooking spray.
2. In a large pie plate or shallow dish, combine the panko, almond meal, salt, pepper and lemon zest if using. In another pie plate or shallow dish, pour in the eggbeaters.
3. Heat a large nonstick skillet with 1 TBS olive oil. When oil is hot enough ( beginning to see wisps form in the oil) dredge a piece of fish in the eggbeaters and then coat in the panko mixture. Place in skillet. Repeat with another piece of fish. Don't overcrowd the pan. ( I did mine in two batches ) Brown fish on each side. Be careful. This won't take long at all. Transfer browned and partially cooked fish to wire rack. Place in oven and repeat with browning remaining fish, using the other TBS of oil and transferring them to wire rack in oven.
4. Allow to finish cooking in oven. Amount of time needed may depend on how long they stay on stove top. Fish is ready when it is firm and flaky. Mine took about 10 minutes or so, but I was using thick loins. Garnish with lemon.
It was hard to believe how much wonderful flavor and crunch these had for such simple ingredients. This is really a super easy weeknight meal! I served this with some steamed broccoli and rice pilaf. So I am happy to say I have one more "fish" recipe to add to my book! and yes, even fish hater son enjoyed these. Not fishy at all! I imagine you could use other nut meals to replace the almond meal in this recipe too! How about macadamia nuts? Doesn't that sound good?? How about you...do you make a lot of fish dishes at home, or are you like me, and leave the fish preparations to the experts in restaurants? I have to say, after watching an entire season of Hell's Kitchen, fish preparation was ALWAYS their nemesis! lol