Saturday, March 17, 2012

St. Patrick's Day Recipe: Tilapia with Basil Lime Mayonnaise

Making peace, I have found, is much harder than making war. – Gerry Adams

This was delicious and fairly healthy. At the time I wished I had made more – a lot more.

It's St. Patrick's Day again so I thought I would do my part and post something green, in keeping with the holiday. In case you're not familiar with this saint's feast day:

Shamrock. Photo: Wiki CC
From Wikipedia
Saint Patrick's Day is a cultural and religious holiday celebrated on 17 March. It commemorates Saint Patrick (c. AD 387–461), the most commonly recognized of the patron saints of Ireland, and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland. Saint Patrick's Day was made an official feast day in the early seventeenth century, and has gradually become a celebration of Irish culture in general.

The day is generally characterized by the attendance of church services, wearing of green attire, the lifting of Lenten restrictions on eating, and drinking alcohol, which is often proscribed during the rest of the season.

Saint Patrick's Day is a public holiday in the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Newfoundland and Labrador and in Montserrat. It is also widely celebrated by the Irish diaspora, especially in places such as Great Britain, Canada, the United States, Argentina, Australia, and New Zealand, among others. Today, St. Patrick's Day is probably the most widely celebrated saint's day in the world.

Legend has it that St. Patrick taught the Irish about the Holy Trinity with the example of a shamrock. The Father, Son and Holy Ghost were "one" in the same way that the three leaves of a shamrock were all attached as one. It was a clever choice because shamrocks were considered sacred to the pre-Christianity religion of Ireland. Christianity has an interesting way of co-opting feasts and symbols from non-Christian religions as a way of absorbing them...

He was also credited with driving all the snakes out of Ireland although evidence suggests that Ireland had no snakes after the glaciers retreated at the end of the last Ice Age.

In Nova Scotia the most common way to celebrate St. Patrick's Day is with public drunkenness, loud noise and idiotic hats, clothes and face/body paint. Or at least that's what it seems in Halifax. We're a university city, which explains it.

Since I won't be there with you to enjoy green beer – or any of the other "exotic" libations and foodstuffs that accompany the day – I thought I would weight in with something a little green that you can make for dinner.

This is exceptionally tasty and quite quick to make. If you've never had herbed mayonnaise before this one's a good place to start. It pairs amazingly well with fish and even with the rapini which can be a little bitter.

Don't "lazy-out" and use store-bought mayonnaise, for goodness sake. Take a look at the directions. It's so easy to make your own mayonnaise with a blender. The most important thing to remember is to chill your oil. Just put the whole bottle in the refrigerator for a couple hours before you want to make it.

I've made mayonnaise with a whisk and bowl before, so there's no reason you can't do it with a blender...

This mayonnaise was a snap to make and would
have a thousand.
Panko Breaded Tilapia
Prep: 5 min  |  Cook: 10 min*  |  Serves 4
1 tilapia fillet per person (one whole side)
1 egg
2 tbsp milk
salt & pepper
2 cups panko crumbs
olive oil for pan frying

Basil-Lime Mayonnaise
Time: 10 minutes, tops
2 tbsp lime juice
1 pinch cayenne
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried mustard
1 egg yolk
3/4 cup chilled olive oil
1/2 cup chopped basil leaves

steamed rapini for 4

Make the mayonnaise first. Make sure you have chilled oil. Place the lime juice, cayenne, salt and dried mustard in a blender. Pulse to combine.

Next add the egg yolk and process until well mixed.

The reason I chose tilapia was because it was on sale.
If you've never tried it you should. It's sort of delicate
like sole. Mmmmmm. I'll be buying it again.
With the motor running add the olive oil starting with a few drops at a time. Continue, adding a little more. When the oil begins to emulsify (thicken) you can begin to add the oil in a thin stream. Keep processing until light and thick.

Add the basil to the mayonnaise and process until well incorporated and you no longer see specks of herb. Refrigerate.

Next bread the fillets. Break the egg in a plate and add the milk and some salt and pepper. Place the panko crumbs in another plate.

Dip each fillet in the egg mixture and coat both sides. then press into the panko crumbs. After both sides are breaded, place on a plate and repeat with your remaining fillets.

Heat some oil in a frying pan and when hot add the fillets. Turn the heat down to medium high so as not to burn the breading. 

Let the tilapia cook on each side until cooked partway through.* This will depend on the thickness of your fillets. You will be able to see the colour change on the side of the fillet. Once it;’s halfway cooked, flip and cook for an equal amount of time on the other side.

To serve, arrange some buttered rapini on a plate, top with a fillet and serve with the basil lime mayonnaise.


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