Gastronomy 101, a blog about food and Los Angeles restaurants

RECIPE: Spice Rubbed Tilapia with Tomatillo, Mango, and Black Bean Salad

Fine Cooking recently had an article an tilapia that had a variety of different recipes for preparing this fish. So, I am trying them out to see the different things one can do with this little whitefish. This recipe I thought would be a lot spicier than it was, since I was rubbing the fish in chili powder, among other things. It actually turned out to be quite savory. That may be because I used kosher salt in the rub instead of regular. But I like saltiness and I like the tenderizing effect the large grains of kosher salt have on the fish. This may be too salty for some people though.

According to J--, the salad was "surprisingly good." I thought so too. It's definitely a different combo but I love the combination of mangoes and meat, and the mangoes actually went very well with the tomatillo. I have never used tomatillo in cooking before and the smell when you cut it open is so good. It's a really fresh smell. I knew it was going to be good as soon as I cut open the first tomatillo.

In the recipe below, I left the plating instructions as they were in the original, but I thought it looked nicer to put the salad on the plate first and put the fish on top of it. Then you see the colorful salad, but you also get a good look at the fish, which is lovely in its own right.

I had terrible allergies yesterday, causing me to have to take allergy medicine three times, all to no avail. So no wine or cocktails for me last night with 3x allergy medicine running through my system. :( I drank some limeade instead with my dinner since the plate looked so tropical and tried to pretend I was on an island vacation. It didn't work all that well, but the food was good!

By the way, I realize my pictures are kind of lame. My camera died and I am confined to my cell phone's camera until I can talk someone into getting me the new camera I want for my birthday (mom). Then I can take pretty pictures and not weird, blurry, shaky messes.

Recipe (for 2)

1. SALAD: In a medium bowl, combine 1/2 can of black beans, drained and rinsed; 1/4 lb. tomatillos, papery covering discarded, fruit rinsed and small diced; 1/2 mango, peeled, pitted, and small diced; 1/4 cup red onion, small diced, 1/6 cup fresh lime juice, 1/3 cup vegetable oil, 1/8 cup chopped fresh cilantro and a few grinds of black pepper. Toss gently. Let the salad sit at room temperature while cooking the fish.

2. Mix 1/4 tsp. black pepper with 1.5 tsp. chili powder, 1 tsp. ground cumin, 1 tsp. dried oregano, and 1 tsp. salt. Rub both sides of two tilapia fillets with the mixture. In a large (12") nonstick skillet, heat 2 tbsp. vegetable oil over medium-high heat until hot. Cook the tilapia fillets until they are lightly browned and the fish is opaque and cooked through (about 2 min. each side). Transfer fish to plates and spoon 1/2 salad on top. Serve with remaining salad on the side.


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