Saturday, June 11, 2011

Pan-Seared Tilapia with Chili Lime Butter


Recipe from Epicurious.com (Gourmet Magazine 2003)
Adapted and Husband-Tested in Alice’s Kitchen

One of my favorite go-to places for great recipes is Epicurious .  There you can find fabulous recipes that have been tested by a whole lot of foodies.  I decided to try this one because it was reviewed by 474 people who gave this dish a “4 Fork” rating with 93% of the reviewers saying that they’d make it again.  That’s high praise indeed.  One of the reviewers said it best, “I think the charm of this dish for me was in the simplicity and lack of serious labor.”  So, it not only tastes great, but it’s so easy to make.  I served this with Roasted Beet Salad with Beet Greens and Feta and sweet corn with scallions.  Many reviewers suggested serving the Chili Lime Butter with corn on the cob!  Many served this fish with rice or couscous which soaked up some of the delicious butter sauce.  When I made the butter, chili peppers weren’t in season yet, so I substituted a little red curry paste instead.  Others who tested this recipe made other substitutions for out of season peppers.  I’ve included their ideas at the end of this recipe.  I look forward to mid summer when the peppers are plentiful so that I can make this butter again.  You'll find all the ingredients for this great dish at Lost River Market & Deli.

For chili lime butter
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh lime zest
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon minced fresh Thai or serrano chili (preferably red), including seeds (I substituted ½ teaspoon of Red Curry Paste for the peppers because peppers weren’t in season yet.  Other substitution ideas are listed below.)
1/2 teaspoon salt
Optional:  Press a clove of garlic into the butter

For fish
6 (5- to 6-oz) pieces skinless tilapia fillet or farm-raised striped bass fillets with skin
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Make chili lime butter:
Stir together butter, shallot, zest, lime juice, chili, and salt in a bowl.

Prepare fish:
If using striped bass, score skin in 3 or 4 places with a thin sharp knife to prevent fish from curling (do not cut through flesh). Pat fish dry and sprinkle with salt. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over moderately high heat until just smoking, then sauté 3 pieces of fish, turning over once with a spatula, until golden and just cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes, and transfer to a plate. Sauté remaining fish in remaining tablespoon oil in same manner.
Serve each piece of fish with a dollop of chili lime butter.

Cooks' note:  Chili lime butter can be made 1 day ahead and chilled covered. Bring to room temperature before using.

Other Chili Pepper Substitution Ideas:  red chili paste, chipotle powder, cayenne pepper

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