Thursday, April 19, 2012

"Hi. My name is Matt, and I have an irrational fear of cooking seafood."

I denied it. I joked about it. I accepted it. I avoided it... but I never did anything about it.

Until now.

I don't know why I was always afraid of cooking seafood. I enjoy eating it, so why the trepidation to prepare it? Seafood cooks fast, and if you're not careful, you'll mess it up bad, and spend the next week trying to get the smell out of your house.  I was so used to longer cooking times of other dishes, I felt comfortable in cooking several things at once. I didn't want to lose my timing and brick the fish.

Then I decided to try... tilapia.

Tilapia is easy, tasty, sustainable, available both fresh and frozen (our choice for convenience), and relatively cheap. And as my friend Gin so eloquently puts it...

I think that's enough... here it goes...

Easy Parmesan-crusted Tilapia
Serves: 4
Total Time: 25 minutes (5 min. prep, 25 min. bake)

4-4 oz. Tilapia fillets
"Drench" - 1 egg, beaten with 1 Tbs. milk
"Dredge" - 1/2 c. Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs, 1/4 c. grated Parmesan, 1 tsp. dried oregano,
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
canola cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 400°F (205°C).
2. Lightly spray a 13x9 glass pan with the cooking spray.
3. Pat each thawed piece of tilapia dry. Why? Well, it's the physics of breading...stuff. If the fish is wet, the drench won't stick to it. In a nutshell, "wet sticks to dry, dry sticks to wet." You know, the whole "opposites attract" thing... trust me. Okay, back to the recipe...
4. Drench each piece of fish in the beaten egg and milk mixture, to coat.
5. Then dredge each coated piece in the breadcrumb/Parm mixture, to cover completely.
6. Place in the prepared glass pan, and sprinkle some of the remaining breadcrumb/Parm mixture, to catch any spots you may have missed.
7. Bake for 20 minutes. The fish will whitish and flake easily when it is done.

See? I knew I could overcome it.