Friday, April 16, 2010

Almond-crusted tilapia

Contrary to popular belief among my family and friends that I'm baking AND whipping up a mouth-watering dinner every night, the reality is that the baking happens much more often than the dinner thing.  In fact, there are nights when a glass of chocolate milk after I get home from the gym and whatever batter/fresh-out-of-the-oven treat are my only dinner items.  No, it's not balanced in the slightest.  It's not that I do this intentionally, really!  It's just that after sitting at a desk all day, save for a lunchtime walk, I want to stand in the kitchen and toil with flour and sugars galore!

And then, all of a sudden, I glance at the time, it's nine o'clock.  And I don't want to start dinner an hour before bedtime.  So I just wait for that maple yogurt loaf, or whatever that night's adventure was, to cool, get ready for bed, and vow that my breakfast will be very healthy and balanced indeed.  And on nights when there is no baking at all? 


Well, I am proud to declare that last night was not one of those nights!  No, ma'am.  In fact, I only did one quick pass through a baking book just to bookmark a recipe for a later engagement.  The reason I was able to resist was that, around three o'clock that afternoon, I started thinking about a dish I had a while back at my beloved -- macademia  Mahi-Mahi.  The crunch and flavor of the nuts combined with the tender white fish... it was to die for.  

How to recreate that at home...  Before I give details, I want to let you in on a little secret that I told a friend the other day who called with some kitchen questions.  Experiment with ingredients that you like!  Don't think that you must use some spice or item that you can't stand but so-and-so who is a chef told you so.  Ingredients aren't going to magically transform to another thing entirely during the cooking process.  You wouldn't pick out an ugly shirt and pair it with your favorite jeans and suddenly, right before your eyes, you'd fall in love with the shirt... right?  Same goes for food.  Worst case scenario is that you don't make the recipe again or for guests, but I'm betting you'll eat it, right?  Right.  

Getting back to the basic nut-crusted fish idea (see clever awful pun of a title), any nut would work, so why not almonds?  I had those.  And some bread crumbs as filler and a little flavor.  Rather than the traditional flour and egg wash, I decided to try something I saw on Food Network -- using Dijon mustard to brush on the chicken or fish before dipping in desired breading.  And something to add a kick to the sweet almonds and mustard... Old Bay, heck yes.  I hadn't really used much since my bout with the sweet potatoes.

Almond-Crusted Tilapia
-enough for 2 6-ounce tilapia fillets

1/4 cup raw almonds
2 Tablespoons bread crumbs (plain or seasoned, doesn't matter)
1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
Dash of ground black pepper
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard (I used honey because it's what was available)
Nonstick cooking spray

In the bowl of a blender or food processor, blend first four ingredients until finely ground.  Transfer crumb mixture to a shallow dish.

Over medium heat, coat a skillet with nonstick cooking spray.  Brush mustard over each side of fish fillets and dredge in crumb mixture.  Add fish to pan and cook roughly 3 minutes on each side or until fish flakes to your desire.

Serve with your choice of green vegetable or salad -- I opted for green beans and a small baby spinach salad.

Have a wonderful weekend!  And, if you're in the Pittsburgh area, head over to CMU for its annual carnival celebration.  I'll be there, downing funnel cakes most likely :)


  1. The finished meal looks fantastic.

  2. Yay for the anonymous shout out in the post! And the advice was perfect-I used what I like and I liked!!

  3. Yay Katy - I'm following the little girl's blog now!

  4. Thanks for your support, Sue! And I'm already thinking of what LA food spots I can feature... I think I know of a great kosher dairy place, but I can't remember the name... :)