Friday, March 26, 2010

Panko-crusted Tilapia, salad with roasted leeks & vinaigrette

I have a local source for fresh tilapia filets so I keep some in the freezer at all times. They are easy to thaw quickly: simply immerse the bag in a bowl of water for about 20-30 minutes.
I was bored with the usual method of preparing them so I decided to experiment. First I dug around in my pantry and freezer to see what I had. Sometimes I "bread" fish with ground pecans or almonds because we are watching our carb-intake. I decided to try some Panko for a little variety since I was using such a small amount.
I had a bunch of young leeks so I prepped them for roasting to include in our salad.
leeks usually have a lot of dirt inside, so cut them lengthwise and wash thoroughly

rather than drizzle olive oil over them, I put them in a bag and toss them in olive oil
prior to putting them on the roasting pan. I think this coats them better and saves on oil
I put them in the oven to roast for about 30-40 minutes @ 350 degrees.

Next, I concocted a moist-coating for the fish out of chick-pea miso paste, rice vinegar, a splash of toasted sesame oil, about 1 tablespoon of fish sauce, some lemon zest & juice:

fish sauce is stinky but it adds a lot of depth to whatever you are cooking

here's what my "fish coating" looked like

Next, I mixed a bit of dry seasoning into the panko. This was a local "salmon crust", but I think any sort of dry seasoning would do.

panko crumbs with dry seasoning

here's the package of panko crumbs
It is usually found in the asian section of a good store, or in an asian grocer if you are lucky-enough to have one nearby!
If not, use any sort of breading or ground nut meal. It doesn't matter. I just used this because I needed something different!

First I coated my fish filets in the miso-mixture

then I pressed the panko crust into the moist surface
and placed the filets on a roasting pan
These could have been sauteed nicely on the stove, too.
I cooked these for about 15-17 minutes at 350 in the oven.

While they were roasting, I mixed a vinaigrette for the salad. The greens were already washed, spinned, and waiting in the salad bowl. I never dress the greens until just before serving because I don't want them to get soaked in excess dressing-yuck!

I use a little plastic cup with a tight lid because it is perfect for emulsifying the mixture.
Today's vinaigrette included 3 mashed blackberries, about a tablespoon of balsalmic vinegar,
1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar, the juice of half a meyer lemon, a bit of zest, about 2 tablespoons of grapeseed oil (I prefer it to olive oil on salads because it is lighter on the tongue), a dash of salt and freshly ground pepper. I don't emulsify it until immediately before I dress the salad.

pouring the emulsified vinaigrette onto the greens

I toss tender greens with my hands rather than tongs to avoid bruising them
Plus, I like to play in my food

Here are the roasted leeks

Dinner is served!
I plated my salad, then layered some leeks and a few extra blackberries onto the greens.
Roasted red peppers complete the meal,
and I mixed additional dipping sauce for the fish out of a bit of soy sauce, fish sauce, and chili sauce which was served is small bowls to the side.

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