As a follow-up to our previous article on whitefish we’d now like to introduce you to two more members of the whitefish family available every day at our Old Saybrook, CT seafood market. You’ve most likely heard of Tilapia and Sole by now, but we’re going to get you familiar with them on a higher level. Sit back and enjoy reading this article as we introduce you to some of the tastiest treasures of the deep.
Tilapia is a delicious and healthy whitefish that is usually found in colder freshwater areas, rarely venturing out to seas or any water warmer than 70 degrees. They are very effective hunters since they can withstand extremes in temperatures and have a bone structure that provides them with a wide set mouth and a virtual 2nd set of jaws which combine for one powerful bite. This serves to make them somewhat of an invasive species when they do go out to salt water and warmer areas where they feast on unsuspecting prey. Depending on how you look at it, they can also be invasive in a positive way. Unlike many fish, Tilapia are omnivores and are highly skilled at quickly gobbling up unneeded and unwanted marine plants.
Due to their omnivorous status, Tilapia can be very cheap to feed when farm raised, as they’ll feast on algae all day long and never complain about it (even if they could talk, they’d still probably have few negative remarks about the menu).
Tilapia can be served whole, but are most commonly presented in fillet form. They’re a very healthy fish for human consumption, since they are high in protein and low in saturated fat, calories, and sodium. Tilapia is also an excellent source of many essential nutrients such as niacin, potassium, Vitamin B 12, and more. As is the case with many whitefish, they have a mild flavor and flaky texture which gives them a great degree of versatility when in the hands of a knowledgeable chef. Their flavor is close to that of flounder and therefore are a good idea to serve to people who are looking for a less “fishy” tasting fish.
Due to their health features and appealing taste, Tilapia have become very popular in recent years. They have become so popular that the amount being caught and consumed more than doubling from 2000 to 2010. This trend shows no sign of slowing however, as the public is happily consuming Tilapia every day and holding up their plates for more.
The other whitefish that we’d like to talk a little about today is Sole. While Sole have a white flesh, the exhibit a mottled brown exterior. It is this outward appearance that led to them getting their name, as it is derived from “solea”, the Latin word for sandal. Their coloring suits them well as they tend to feed near the ocean floor and are able to blend into their surroundings quite well. Smaller seafood species usually don’t tend to spot Sole until it is far too late. Their strong predatorial skills help them to live long lives, with many sole surpassing 50 years of age.
There are many different sub-species of Sole throughout the world, but the most commonly served and popular variety is the Dover Sole. As is the case with Tilapia, Sole possesses a mild flavor but differs strongly when it comes to the texture of its flesh. Sole has a much more firm texture than most whitefish and this leads to cooking taking a bit longer. On the upside, it makes it an ideal fish for grilling and this has led to it earning the nickname of “The Porterhouse of Fish”. It is another fish that is low in fat and sodium, yet high in protein and calcium. Sole is one of those few foods that both tastes great and is great for you.
As referenced earlier, Tilapia can be employed in many inventive recipes, and the one we’ll be sharing with you today comes from MyRecipes.com and is entitled Blackened Tilapia Baja Tacos. Here’s a list of what you’ll need to prepare it along with step-by-step cooking instructions.
Ingredients: 1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream, 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro,
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped, 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika, 1 cup thinly sliced white onion, 1 1/2 teaspoons brown sugar, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin,
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper, 1 tablespoon canola oil, 4 (6-ounce) tilapia fillets, 8 (6-inch) corn tortillas,
1/2 ripe peeled avocado, thinly sliced, and 4 lime wedges1
1. Mix together the first 4 ingredients in a food processor/blender and run until the mixture is smooth. Place the jalapeño sauce and sliced onions in a small bowl and mix them together.
2.Blend together the paprika, brown sugar, oregano, garlic powder, salt cumin, and ground red pepper. Sprinkle them evenly over fish. Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. After this you may place the fish into the pan and cook for 3 minutes on each side.
3. Warm the tortillas according to the directions provided on their packaging. Portion the fish, onion mixture, and avocado evenly among the tortillas and garnish with lime wedges1.
1. Bonom, David
Blackened Tilapia Baja Tacos
MyRecipes.com, March 2011