Okay, sometimes my food is too good to stop eating long enough to take pictures, so I end up with an empty plate and a fork. Not such a bad place to be in, I think. Last night was tilapia night. I have a few different tricks to make tilapia palatable. Last night was all about the fish boil? Can my Midwest peeps give a shout out to this one?
I first learned of fish boil in Door County Wisconsin. Up there in the Great lakes region, Fridays are dedicated to fish. “Let’s go to a Fish Fry!” was all I said, and we ended up at a fish boil. I had no idea how this would rock my personal culinary world, and change the way I eat fish.
Prior to this fish epiphany, I had been true to eating raw fish, you know sushi and sashimi. Most fresh water fishes were mainly avoided because of that. Oh how I love sushi, so much that I would refuse to eat cooked fish at all. of course there were few exceptions, such as seared tuna, and fish and chips when I went to the UK, rarely a grilled halibut. But again, all ocean fish. Lake and river fishes like perch, white bass, trout and pike were not even on my my food radar.
Fish boils are big showy meals, simple in construction, and unbelievably tasty. At the restaurant we went to, they served boiled potatoes and onions, coleslaw and bread, and of course a buttery tangy sauce to go on top of it all. The meal reminded me how simple can be simply amazing.
My take on a fish boil, I do not have a lot of access to go fishing every time I want to eat fish, so I buy tilapia instead. It is inexpensive, and absorbs flavors fairly well. A lot of cooks do not like working with such a bland piece of fish, but in the right hands, mine, tilapia turns out really tasty. I prefer the wild tilapia as opposed to the farmed, it has a more earthy flavor.
I start with a big pot of water and put it on to boil. I add carrots and potatoes, cut into similar sized pieces, then bring it back to a boil. When the water is up to a mild boil, I add celery and onions, a handful of chopped parsley and salt. Really simple! Really cheap with tilapia to make, and tasty even without the fish! When the carrots are soft enough to poke through, I add the fish. The fish only takes 3 or 4 minutes to cook.
For the buttery tangy sauce, I melt a few tablespoons of butter, add finely minced garlic, and a tiny splash of lemon juice. I can not seem to have a meal without mushrooms, so last night I also added grilled mushrooms to the butter sauce.
To serve this, I scoop out the cooked veg first with a large slotted spoon, I do not want a lot of liquid on my plate for this, I reserve the broth for future soups and soup bases. Then I scoop the fish out. Around the fish I will scoop more veg. On top went the mushroom and the buttery sauce. On the side I have made some stuffed hungarian peppers (of which many future blogs will be dedicated) and a fresh baked dinner roll.
Every component has the holy-moley moment, the moment when the first bite hits the palate. The flavor/texture dance that takes control of the entire body. Eye rolling, mouth watering, groan inducing satisfaction. Instantly, more is needed: From hand to mouth.