Pan-Fried Tilapia with Braised Leeks and Gremolata

Recipe by: Nathan Lyon
Cookbook author, chef and Emmy Award-nominated culinary host for television show “Good Food America.”

Ingredients
(Serves 2)

Gremolata
1 teaspoon lemon zest (1 lemon), grated on a Microplane and chopped finely
1 medium garlic clove, peeled and minced (1/2 teaspoon)
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Leeks
1/2 pound leeks
1 small bulb fennel, sliced into 8 equal wedges
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
5 sprigs fresh thyme
1 large garlic clove, peeled and minced
1 cup dry white wine (preferably Sauvignon Blanc)
1 cup vegetable stock
1 1/2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice (juice of half a lemon)
2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley

Tilapia Fillets
2 U.S. farmed tilapia fillets, 1 inch thick at the thickest point (about 3/4 pound)
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (juice of half a lemon)

Directions

Gremolata
In a small bowl, combine the lemon zest, garlic, and parsley and mix well.

Season to taste with salt and pepper, stir, and cover with plastic wrap.

Leeks
Cut off the root ends and dark green parts of the leeks, halve them, and clean them carefully in a sink or large bowl full of water; drain the leeks.

Season the cut side of the leeks lightly with salt and pepper.

In a sauté pan large enough to accommodate the leeks, combine 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter and heat over medium-high heat until the butter just begins to brown.

Add the leeks, cut side down, and the fennel and cook undisturbed for 3 minutes, or until nicely caramelized.

Using tongs, flip the leeks and fennel; continue to cook until caramelized, 1 minute.

Stir in the white wine, stock, thyme, and garlic and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and cook until the leeks are beginning to soften and give when pressed, approximately 15 minutes.

Squeeze in the lemon juice, and reduce the liquid until ¼ cup remains, approximately 15 additional minutes.

Season to taste with salt and pepper, discard the thyme sprigs, stir in the parsley, and cover and keep warm.

Tilapia Fillets
While the vegetables are braising, pat the fillets dry and season them lightly, on both sides, with salt and pepper.

Sprinkle the flour onto a plate, then dredge the fillets in the flour, shaking them lightly to remove any excess.

When the vegetable braising liquid is reduced to approximately 1 cup, combine the olive oil and butter over medium-high heat in a large sauté pan until the butter begins to brown.

Carefully add the fillets, and let cook until nicely browned, approximately 3 minutes. Using a wide spatula, flip the fillets, and continue to cook for 2 to 3 minutes more. The fish should look opaque, and just begin to flake, but still be moist.

Season to taste with salt and pepper, stir, and cover with plastic wrap.

To finish and serve:
Squeeze the lemon juice over the fillets, then serve immediately on a bed of the braised vegetables (with the tasty braising liquid) and a generous sprinkling of gremolata over the top of the entire dish.

Tilapia, Farmed, Domestic is designated a Best Choice by Seafood Watch.

Buy tilapia (“izumidai” in sushi) farmed in the U.S. and Canada in closed tanks, Ecuador in ponds and Peru in raceways. Then look for a “Good Alternative,” but know that these sources have environmental issues. Say, “No, thanks” to tilapia farmed in Colombia.

Recipe courtesy of Seafood Watch ® a registered service mark of the Monterrey Bay Aquarium Foundation

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