Friday, January 7, 2011

Blackened Talapia on a bed of Spinach Blue Cheese Polenta

It's time for yet another New Year's resolution.  You may recall I am committing myself to be more focused, and try to avoid the "what i had for Lunch" syndrome that I started to fall into.  So, once a week, I will be the Pizza guy!  Once a week, I turn advice columnist and discuss Cooking for Empty Nesters.  A couple of days ago, I announced my goal of a Meatless Main Course each week.  And now, I am announcing a weekly Fish Dish.  

During Jackie's recent discomfort, I had an opportunity to discus nutrition with a real live nutritionist.  I had a lot of things right (real ingredients, fruit every day, variety of foods and never (well, rarely) prepackaged convenience foods).  One of my deficiencies was fish was a treat instead of a habit.  The longest living, healthiest people in the world have much more fish in their diet than meat.

It's time to step up to the plate and add at least a weekly fish dish to my regular meal plan.

I also want to get more... educational, or at the least, thought provoking... well, let's just say I want to offer a little tip about my meals that is worth considering.  I know that often I read my favorite blogs, look over a recipe (what I had for lunch), but as soon as I move on, I don't take much away if it's not a recipe I am going to try.  Hopefully, these little tips are just a tweak in your mind that will stay with you.

Today's tip is something I learned while I was in the Virgin Islands
Fish Tip #1 
Unless you are on the docks, or caught it yourself, the freshest fish is often in the freezer section.  Fish is not meant to have a strong fish smell...  
 I know it's counterintuitive that those beautiful counters filled with ice and signs advertising fresh fish are not always fresh.  Smell your fish.  If it smells too strong, it is not fresh.  The longer fish stays uncooked or unfrozen, the stronger the smell will be.  Ever find yourself in a fish store with an overpowering smell of fish?  If so, turn around, head to the freezer section of your big box supermarket and buy a more fresh, more healthy, more flavorful fish.  


For my first fish in my series, I am showing a recipe I have posted several times, but honestly it is never fail, so incredibly easy and FAST, but also the best fish I have ever had.  I just love it.  I did softened the taste a bit with a bit of brown sugar to get a mix of sweet and heat (in consideration of Jackie's still delicate condition).

This recipe served 2...

2 Tilapia Filets, fresh from the freezer
2 TBS Butter
2 TBS "Big Easy in a Jar" Cajun spice mix (or a Cajun spice mix of your choice)
2 TBS Brown Sugar

Tilapia is a wonderful fish ... Tasty and cheap!  Every store from Aldi to Kroger to the cheap place in St Thomas sells big bags of single fillets, individually sealed and perfect for a quick lunch...

And this recipe is quick... Freezer to thawed in the microwave to 4 minutes in the frying pan and served... total time, just a shade over 5 minutes...

While the fish is thawing ... BTW, if you plan ahead, instead of microwave, put a fillet (still sealed in plastic) in a pan of warm water for 30 minutes and it will be thawed.  OK, back to the how to... While the fish is thawing in the microwave, take a non stick skillet and melt one TBS butter for each fillet you are making...

Add one rounded teaspoon of the "Big Easy in a Jar" Cajun spice mix to the butter and get hot hot hot... You will start to see whisps of smoke coming from the spices.  At that stage, turn the heat down just a tinge.  You like the smoke, but you do not want to burn...

Add the fish fillet.  2 minutes, and you continue to see the smoke...

Flip the fish and 2 minutes on the other side...

Filled with flavor, cooked perfect, flaky, not over cooked...

I am on a mission to stop rubbery overcooked fish... 2 minutes per side.  That's it and is perfect always... And busting with flavor!
I love blackened fish.

And served on a bed of Blue Cheese Spinach Polenta, this is really Good!!!



  1. that's a good blackened fish :) happy new year!

  2. I used to think tilipia was "yawn boring" but I'm starting to see some recipes that have me running to the market. This one's a keeper

  3. I am the same way - I need to add more fish dishes to our menu - so I'll be needing your recipes!

    And I actually read somewhere that the "fresh" fish at Whole Foods is actually frozen fish that's been defrosted, so I buy frozen.

  4. Hi Dave! Your fish looks amazing... we already do eat fish once a week... (or more since I am still trying to eat Vegetarian) We are lucky enough to get our fish straight from Alaska. Either hubby or
    I fish for it, or we have it shipped from friends. We do buy it too. Like crab, shrimp and scallops. We usually only eat salmon or Halibut fish. I will have to try the halibut "blackened" I haven't made it before. Great tutorial!

  5. A great way of adding flavour to fish. I love the colour it gives too

  6. You know my stance on fish but I'd gladly take a bowl of the blue cheese grits! (Okay, okay, polenta)