Once upon a time, I found myself growing weary of my standard main dishes of which my children would deign to partake. I would stock up on chicken breasts and ground beef or turkey, on sale, but it was becoming boring.
â€œWhat should I make for dinner tonight?â€ I queried a friend, in desperation.
â€œTilapia!â€ she replied.
â€œGesundheit,â€ I countered.
It turns out that she wasnâ€™t sneezing. Sheâ€™d been keeping this secret from me! But now I am wise to the magic that is tilapia.
Now, either you know tilapia and you are nodding in agreement, or you are looking askance at me and seriously considering calling someone who might be able toâ€¦ you knowâ€¦ help me. But I do not need help! Because I have lots and lots of tilapia!
Alright. Tilapia, or St. Peterâ€™s fish, has all sorts of great things going for it. Observe:
1. It is cheap. Very cheap.
2. It is healthy. Itâ€™s a low-fat, high-protein white fish with all of those omega-3 happy acids. (Ha! Happy acids!)
3. It is something of the tofu of the fish world; it has a very mild, unassuming taste, which makes it perfect for a plethora of recipes.
4. It cooks very quickly, making it ideal just-got-home-now-whatâ€™s-for-dinner fare.
5. Sometimes it is the theme ingredient on Iron Chef America! Battle Tilapia, baybee!
Donâ€™t you turn up your nose at me, muttering something about how your kids (or maybe even you) donâ€™t like fish. My kids â€œdonâ€™t likeâ€ fish, either. And they love tilapia. It is the anti-fish fish. It all depends on how you prepare it.
Now hereâ€™s the best part: At my grocery store, I can buy a 4-pound box of individually sealed frozen tilapia filets for about $12. Each filet weighs maybe 3 ouncesâ€¦ one filet per personâ€¦ carry the 4â€¦ well, according to my math, that works out to somewhere around eleventy hundred meals on that one box. (Okay, in all seriousness? We eat tilapia at least one night a week, sometimes two. The box will easily last us for up to three months. And there is no greater convenience than being able to grab out however many pieces we need for each meal.)
My most common preparation (and my sonâ€™s favorite) is to sprinkle the fish with salt, pepper, lemon and rosemary, then broil the filets a few minutes on each side to cook. The last step is to smear the top with a mixture of lemon, mayonnaise, bread crumbs, and parmesan cheese; another minute under the broiler gives the topping a nice crunch. My daughter prefers the even easier method of a liberal smothering in feta cheese and tomatoes.
Serve with rice and your veggie of choice. We often have it with caesar salad (which I buy in a bag, because Iâ€™m fancy that way). Use the money you saved to buy ice cream for dessert, because dude, you just got your kids to eat fish.