Since we had already planned to prepare a dish very similar to this, it was amazingly fortuitous that this recipe happened to appear in the local newspaper -- the same day that we purchased some of the ingredients!
You're probably already aware of the excellent Omega-3 oil content of this versatile fish -- perhaps even surpassing the salmon in overall healthfulness. But did you know that it may indeed be the same finned wonder that Jesus used to feed the multitudes in the Bible? No wonder -- it's also called Nile perch.
To prepare this medley of tilapia, mushrooms, and tomatoes -- first you need to be aware of the benefits of braising. It preserves the healthful food content by quickly searing the fish in a hot pan, then simmers it in a flavor-packed liquid -- like beer, wine, or soup stock.
In this case it's quite a breeze, because fish and vegetables require a shorter braising time than sturdier fare like red meat and poultry. Flavor is also infused more from foods and liquids rather than fats.
A proper pan for braising should be airtight, to prevent vital vapors from escape. Then you preserve as much of the delectible juices as possible. Plus it only uses one tablespoon of olive oil -- resulting in maximum "delish-efficiency"!
The dish takes a half-hour to prepare, and includes the following ingredients: 1 Tbsp. chili powder, 2 tsp. minced garlic, 2 tsps. flour (whole wheat / grain if possible, or mix as desired), 1/4 tsp. salt, 1 lb. tilapia filets divided into 2-inch-wide pieces, 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, 1 large chopped onion (I prefer red), 8 oz. sliced mushrooms (shiitake or other), 12 oz. mild beer (like pale ale), 14 1/2 oz. diced tomatoes, 2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce, 2 tsp. hot sauce, and 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley.
Preparation: In shallow dish / pie plate -- mix chili powder, garlic, flour and salt. Bathe tilapia in mixture, flipping for an even coating. Now take a large deep pan with olive oil, over medium-high heat -- then add fish to brown on both sides, about two minutes each. Set fish aside after that.
Next saute' your mushrooms and onions, four to five minutes, in the pan. Mix in beer, tomatoes, and both sauces -- lower heat to medium, and simmer five minutes.
Tilapia can now be returned to your pan to bathe in the spicy mixture. Cover the filets well and keep simmering -- about five more minutes -- when fish should be opaque, and flake easily with a fork.
Finally, serve up your "caliente" dish with a generous sprinkle of chopped parsley.
No matter how you slice or dice it, tilapia is rapidly becoming the fish of the future -- especially when it's got that special "lagniappe zap"!
(Special thanks to Jim Romanoff, Associated Press, and 'The Clinton Herald' -- for their article).
P.S. News Flash! According to the 'San Jose Mercury News,' tilapia is now the fifth most popularly-consumed seafood in the nation -- perhaps because of its mild "unfishy" flavor. From Ancient Egypt to your own freezer -- cook 'em if you got 'em!