Sunday, December 5, 2010

Pan-fried Fish

I love fish, but I've always been rather intimidated by the thought of cooking it myself. This is probably because I didn't grow up seeing it cooked combined with a few spectacular failures early on. Even the times that I considered my efforts a success DH didn't like it so I had pretty much given up and left fish to the professionals. Then yesterday I was at Trader Joe's and noticed some frozen tilapia fillets that seemed to be calling to me. I was really in a fish mood so I picked them up and decided to experiment. I "followed" (meaning I only changed half of it) one of the recipes on the package and did the same for a tarter sauce recipe I found online and wound up with an amazingly fast and tasty meal. DH was so impressed by the end product that I'm not entirely sure he hasn't been replaced by aliens, but I'll take my victories where I can find them and have decided to write it down before I forget what I did. Here goes:

You need:
White Fish Fillets (I used tilapia)
Garlic Powder
Vegetable Oil

Put 1/2c-1c flour in a pie plate and add a bunch of lemon-pepper along with a dash of garlic powder and a pinch of salt. Mix it all together with a fork. How much lemon-pepper you add depends on how much flour you add, you are trying to get to where the flour is nicely speckled with the pepper once it has all been mixed up. Rinse the fish off and if you have giant pieces like I did you might consider cutting them into more manageable pieces. (I did this on accident, it was frozen and I broke the fillets trying to get them apart. One of the fillets remained intact and I cooked it that way, but we liked the smaller pieces better.) Put enough oil in a frying pan to just cover the bottom and start heating it up over medium-high heat while you dredge the wet fish in the flour mixture. Be sure to cover the fish well and then shake off the excess flour. Once the oil is hot put the fish pieces in the oil and cook for 3 minutes, flip and cook for 3-4 more minutes until the middle is firm and white and it flakes easily with a fork. You will have to poke it with a fork to tell though, because the breading holds it together. At this point the outside should be a nice golden brown, if it isn't turn up the heat a touch next time. If you are working in batches because your pan is too small then line a plate or platter with a paper towel and put them in a warm oven. The paper towel will help keep them from getting soggy while they wait and will also let you see how little oil was absorbed by the thin breading so you feel better about eating fried fish.

For the Tarter Sauce:
Lemon Juice

Take 2-3 tablespoons of the mayo and add a splash of lemon juice and mix it up until it has the consistency that you want. If it is too thin add more mayo, too thick add more lemon juice. Sprinkle in the dill until you have an attractively flecked sauce. Double check that it tastes the way you want and adjust the seasoning to suit.

Serve the fish with some tarter sauce on the side. If you add couscous and some frozen veggies cooked in the microwave you can have a tasty, healthy dinner in less than 15 minutes and all of the ingredients can be stored in either the freezer or the pantry so you have them on hand for those busy evenings.


  1. Pan frying is one of my favorite ways to make fish! I am a salmon addict, and surprisingly enough, Cecilia loves it too!

  2. Fish is good for brains. It sounds like Cecilia knows what will help her grow a mighty brain and is eating accordingly.