I mean, there is snow on the ground here. It's freezing.
I should probably be making evergreen wreaths and hearty beef stew. But honestly, if this crispy, almond-crusted tilapia with fresh lime mango salsa is wrong... I don't want to be right. It was one of those meals that you can't eat quietly - - Ryan and I were constantly letting out "mmmm's" and "oh my god this is so good's" as we ate it. The flavors are complex and dynamic, and it's like it just gets better and better as you eat it.
And, while I LOVE this mango salsa, the tilapia on its own is flavorful and delicious. I've also topped it with a cajun remoulade, had it plain, and eaten it over mixed greens. I have to say though, the mango salsa has to be my fave. Plus, the whole dish takes under 30 minutes to make.
Start by making the mango salsa. I saw that mangoes were randomly on sale at the grocery store this weekend ($1 each!), and they looked really good, so I bought one. It was actually super ripe and juicy. Start by peeling and chopping a small-medium mango into cubes. And no, I'm not providing directions or pictures for how to do this because I suck at cutting mangoes. I really don't know how to do it correctly. At all. I pretty much just hacked into mine. Anyway, combine the mango in a bowl with some fresh parsley, some chopped cucumber, diced red onion, lime juice, olive oil, dry basil (or fresh), and salt and pepper.
Mix it all together. Cover and let chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
Then, prepare the coating for the fish. Using ground-up almonds instead of bread crumbs is such an awesome idea... so much healthier, and it still gives it that nice crispy coating. Use raw, sliced almonds. I get them cheaply at trader joe's.
Just toss them into a food processor and grind until fine. If you don't have a food processor... get creative - maybe put them in a plastic bag then bang with a heavy skillet? I don't know, be resourceful.
Pour the ground almonds into a bowl, and combine with a bit of parmesan, garlic powder, curry powder, salt and pepper, and some Japanese panko bread crumbs. I've also skipped the bread crumbs entirely, but using just a little panko adds a nice extra crunch. Up to you.
You need 3 or 4 fresh or thawed tilapia filets. Prepare a dredging station: 1 bowl of egg wash (just one whisked egg with a tablespoon or 2 of milk) and 1 bowl of your almond mix.
Drag each filet through the egg wash, then cover well with the almond mix. Use your hands to press on if needed; you want the whole surface of the fish to be covered.
Then, heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. You need to cover the full bottom surface of the pan with oil (maybe 1/8 - 1/4 of an inch up the side of pan). Once the oil is VERY hot, or after about 5 minutes or so, add the fish. Don't don't DON'T overcrowd the pan or they won't get crispy. If needed, cook in batches.
Cook for about 5 minutes/side, or until the outside is brown and crispy and the inside is flaky and cooked through. Lay on a paper towel on a plate and let sit for a couple of minutes. Then, top with the mango salsa and serve!
Almond-Crusted Tilapia with Mango Salsa
For 3-4 servings
-3-4 raw tilapia filets (thawed if frozen) (could use any flaky white fish)
-1/2 cup raw, sliced almonds
-1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
-2 tbsp grated parmesan
-1/4 tsp salt
-1/4 tsp pepper
-1/4 tsp garlic powder
-1/4 tsp curry powder
-1-2 tbsp milk
-Olive oil for frying
For mango salsa:
-1 mango, peeled and cubed
-1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
-1/2 cup chopped cucumber
-Juice of 1/2 lime
-1/3 cup diced red onion
-2 tbsp olive oil
-1/2 tsp dried basil
-Salt and pepper to taste
-For mango salsa:
-Mix all ingredients. Cover and let chill in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
-Put almonds in a food processor and grind until fine. Pour into a bowl and mix with breadcrumbs, parmesan, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and curry powder.
-In another bowl, whisk the egg and milk.
-Dredge each tilapia filet through the egg wash, then coat well with the almond mixture.
-Heat enough olive oil to cover the bottom of a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Let get very hot. Add fish, and cook for about 5 minutes/side, or until crust is browned and crispy and the inside is flaky and cooked through.
-Top with mango salsa and serve.