Lemon + Fish = Rookie

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Okay, it’s confession time….

I have never made fish or seafood at home.

Seriously, NEVER.

Not frozen, not instant, not fresh… nothing.

I am an official ‘Fish Rookie’.

While I have eaten some fish in restaurants it somehow intimidated me to make my own at home.

I walk by the butcher section of the supermarket and stop to stare at all the cuts of fish in the case, wondering… “Can I cook that?”… “How hard could it be?”… “What is that smell?”… “What the heck is that thing?”…  My daydreaming is interrupted by someone behind the counter, “Can I help you ma’am?”

Ma’am? Oh yes, that’s me… ma’am. I’m 28 and I guess people can call me that now. I’ll just take it as a sign of respect instead of aging.

“No, thank you… I was just looking,” I say. Then they often reply with something along the lines of… “Oh boy, you’ve got your hands full there.”

They are referring to the sight of my now-bulging, almost 8-months pregnant belly… my 2-year-old girl who is either running in circles around the cart, wandering a short distance away, or sitting in the larger part of the cart organizing our purchases… and my 1-year-old girl who is lounging in the front part of the cart kicking her feet, singing, sucking her thumb, crying, and/or watching her older sister. Sigh.

Yes, my hands are full… but so is my heart. I am thankful for this season (even when I don’t feel like I am)… I know it will be over all too quick and, someday, I’ll miss it.

On that note… I have to share a picture of my girls’ getting ready to go to a birthday party for a friend. They have only been to a couple of birthdays in their short lives and this one was special because my little Emily finally let me put her hair in piggytails, and Rachel, not wanting to be left out, tried out a new hair-do for the occasion, as well.

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Oh my heart… no more of these, I’ll start crying.

Back to the fish!

I was most certainly not going to write my own recipe for my first attempt at fish at home, so I went with one from Bobby Flay. The only difference being that I broiled my fish instead of grilling it.

Tilapia is a very mild fish (not too FISHY-tasting) AND it’s budget-friendly. This made it perfect my purposes… HOWEVER, because it is such a flaky fish, it supposedly is a bit tricky to keep it from sticking to a grill and a bit tricky to know when it is done without over-cooking it.

With no experience to speak of, I decided to go with something a bit more fool-proof: BROILING!

I found another tilapia recipe that seasoned the fish the same way my main recipe did, but it has you broil the fish instead. HERE is the link for that recipe (it also looks delicious!)

So, let’s dive into the recipe… Tilapia with Lemon-Butter, Capers, & Orzo.

Now, again, I divert from the recipe by using chicken stock instead of white wine. I would use the wine if you have it but I didn’t and wanted to save $$$…

I’m such a rebel.

I’ll start with THE SAUCE because it can be made up to a day ahead of time.

Here is what I started my sauce with…

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Bring the shallots, lemon juice and zest, and the white wine (or chicken stock) to a boil.

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Then let it simmer and reduce by half…

The next ingredients you want to invite to the party:

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Let your reduced wine (or stock) mixture cool a bit and then whisk it together with butter and a splash of cream.

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You’ll want to cover this and stick it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes (or up to a day ahead of time!!)

Take the sauce out of the fridge to bring it to room temperature before using it for your recipe.

You can stir in some drained capers at this point in the game!

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The ORZO:

Get a big pot of water boiling and salt it before adding in 1/2 a pound of orzo (pasta). Don’t forget to give it a stir after a minute or so… otherwise it will stick together! Cook the orzo to al dente (slightly toothsome), then drain it completely and add it back to the cooking pot.

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Once it’s cooked and drained, you add in some of the lemon-butter sauce you made… AND some freshly chopped or snipped chives for great flavor and color… and it’s DONE!

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THE FISH:

Pre-heat the broiler (if using instead of grilling).

Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and spray it with a little cooking spray to ensure the fish won’t stick.

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Drizzle the fish with olive oil and season it with salt and pepper.

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A 5-6 oz tilapia fillet takes only 6-8 minutes to cook under the broiler so plan your cooking times accordingly for the sauce, orzo, and fish.

The recipe calls for FOUR 8-ounce fillets for the grill but I could only find 5-6 ounce portions (which was perfect for the broiling recipe so it worked out!)

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I would say… Prep the sauce ahead and make the orzo about 30 minutes out (let the sauce come to room temperature, pre-heat your broiler, and prep your fish while you wait for the pasta water to boil and the orzo to cook). Then just pop the fish under the broiler when you’re about 10 minutes away from wanting to serve!

I served this ‘family-style’ by piling a whole bunch of the orzo on a platter, topping it with the broiled tilapia, and drizzling the lemon-butter sauce over the top with some chopped fresh parsley…

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MMMMmmmmmmm… the fish was SUPER flaky and the orzo was so creamy and delicious… a VERY successful FIRST attempt at fish (if I do say so myself) 🙂

The Cost? 

This was a bit hard to calculate, but you’re looking at about $3.70-80 per serving (as low as $3.00 per person or as high as $4.00 per person though). It just depends on what price you can get your tilapia for! It is one of the cheaper fish cuts… buy it fresh if you can find it at a great price (this is what I did!) It was even cheaper than buying it frozen and thawing it! If you buy it frozen in bulk you could save money, too! Then you could make another round of this recipe if you love it… or try out other tilapia recipes with your remaining frozen fillets in the future!

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Doesn’t that look elegant?!?

Fancy but Fool-proof!

Whew! I’m all worn out….

But, just a few more pictures and then this post will be over. I promise!

While my girls really liked their flaky fish and ESPECIALLY the creamy orzo pasta, I think they definitely preferred the cupcakes at the birthday party.

Tell me if you agree…

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Happy Economical Eating!

Love, Jenna

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