i know, i know: you’re groaning because the first of january hits and we go from cookies and cakes to trying to convince you that lean, white fish can be tasty. but it can! and it’s easy to make too. i promise. because the one thing the new year did *not* bring is more time…
first though, a confession: usually when i cook tilapia, i make what i refer to as “tilapia hash”. appetizing sounding, no? (don’t worry; this is NOT a recipe for tilapia hash.) the first time i cooked tilapia (in a skillet), i wanted to make good and sure that it was cooked all the way through (no inadvertent sushi/food poisoning, thanks). and, well, between the lean fish sticking to the skillet and the spatula cuts to check the inside for doneness (over and over, in many different spots…), it wasn’t long before “filet” was no longer an appropriate appellation for what i was serving. hence the “hash” moniker.
and to be honest, i was perfectly content to keep serving tilapia that way when it was just my husband and me, especially since we’re often putting the fish in fish tacos or on fish taco nachos (yum!). but for this tilapia with cilantro lime yogurt sauce, i wanted something a little less, uh, mangled-looking.
so i set to work making sure my skillet was oiled and preheated and not trying to flip the filet over too soon, before it was cooked and released from the pan. and that did not work AT ALL. not one bit. total tilapia hash situation.
wanting to find a way to cook the fish that left it recognizable to you as a filet of fish, i turned to the interwebs (of course). feeling somewhat desperate, i decided to give baking a try, something i had been reluctant to do because i had decided that it would make the house smell like fish.
not only was that worry unfounded, it also turned out that keeping a baked filet in one (recognizable, non-hash) piece was soooo much easier than trying to prevent the seemingly inevitable outcome when i used a skillet. and the oven method is even easier than the skillet! honestly, i wish i hadn’t been so stubborn about not baking fish for all these years…
so now we can have delicious, (dare i say it?) healthy fish ready for dinner in about 20 minutes. while the fish is in the oven, you can whip up the quick cilantro lime yogurt sauce, adjusting the spice level to your preference. throw some greens on the other side of the plate and you haven’t even broken your new year’s resolution (oooor it means you can have more cookies after dinner; this is a judgment-free zone)!
- 2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
- 8 oz. (227 g.) boneless, skinless tilapia filets (or other mild, white fish)
- 1 small or ½ of a large jalapeño, white ribs removed and green part minced, see notes
- 1/3 cup (2 ½ oz. / 74 g.) plain greek yogurt (i used fat free)
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
- juice of 1 lime
- preheat the oven to 425° F. using 1 teaspoon of the oil, coat the tilapia and the bottom of a small oven safe dish. place the tilapia in the dish and stick in the oven for about 15 minutes, until a thermometer registers 140° F / the fish is opaque throughout.
- while the fish is baking, heat the remaining teaspoon of olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. sauté the jalapeño for a few minutes until it softens. transfer to a small bowl to allow it to cool for a few minutes.
- once the jalapeño has cooled for a few minutes, stir in the yogurt, cilantro, and lime juice. taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
- once the fish is cooked, serve immediately, topped with cilantro lime yogurt sauce.
the white ribs in a jalapeño are where the heat is hiding so removing those will remove much of the spiciness. simply recipes has a good tip on how to select a jalapeño with the right amount of heat that you may want to check out. i definitely didn’t know this before!
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