Thursday, February 11, 2010

Balsamic Butter Sauce, meet my friend Tilapia

My husband asked me last night what I would write about once we are no longer snowed in.

"Oh, I've got plans... I've got lots of plans for things to write about. I've been writing this blog in my mind most of my life!"

(This is a true story) 

But for now, for today's post, let me share a little favorite of ours. We will consider it our meal for the last night being snowed in. No matter what, we are leaving this apartment tonight. I don't care if the wind is blowing 12 inch icicles at 50 mph or the sky unloads another 22 inches of solid white precipitation on our already overloaded state: WE. ARE. GOING. OUT.

We were given this recipe from a friend last year and it took us a full year to make it. Now we've made it twice in the last three weeks (very uncommon for us as we are always trying to keep it changed up in our kitchen). Our friend found it on and it is from the January, 2007 issue of Bon Appetit. I've altered it a bit, as I do with most recipes for one reason or another. We love that it uses Tilapia as my husband and I are very focused on eating fish only found in the "best" column of Monterey Bays Seafood Watch pocket guide (want one for yourself? click here: ).

In the original recipe the Tilapia is paired with thyme mashed potatoes and sugar snap peas.

Last night we paired it with steamed broccoli and garlic-butter pasta (our fridge is beginning to resemble the empty shelves at the grocery store). Given the circumstances, I think we did quite well and I'd easily serve it this way again in the future even if my fridge is full of other options.

Before I launch into the specifics of the ingredients and preparation, let me just say: this balsamic butter sauce is so good it makes me want to bathe in it. When my husband isn't looking, I lick up what's left in the pot. It's almost barbaric. It's rich and velvety without being too overpowering. It's delicate but full of flavor. I would pour it on my cereal if I thought I wouldn't be committed (she's a foodie gone over the edge!).

Are you ready? Salivating? Here it is my friends...

Tilapia with Balsamic Butter Sauce & Steamed Broccoli

Balsamic Butter Sauce
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
just over 1/4 stick of cold unsalted butter, cut into little pats

On medium-low heat, simmer the garlic and balsamic vinegar in a small sauce pot for about 5 minutes or until the balsamic reduces to a thick syrup. It's not perfection yet, so resist the urge to follow my example of licking the pot. Turn off the heat and begin the tilapia fillets.

2 tilapia fillets (or more if you're having company, but don't forget to adjust the rest of the recipe as well)
salt, pepper, olive oil

This is a piece of cake (well, a piece of fish actually)... rub a little olive oil on each side of the fish and sprinkle it with coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. That's it.

Heat a little more olive oil in a skillet on medium high heat and add fish. Cook it about 2 minutes on each side or until it's golden.

Back to heaven sauce, I mean balsamic sauce:

Rewarm the sauce over a low heat and begin to add the butter, one pat at a time. Use a whisk to incorporate it as it melts. Repeat until all butter has been added and the sauce looks shiny and mouth wateringly delicious. This is where I changed the recipe. If you read the original, it calls for a full stick (yes, I repeat a FULL stick) of butter. I simply don't think it needs that much. If you do, go all in. Then let me know what you think. I think it will compromise the flavor of the balsamic. But I never made the original so that's just me making unfounded claims.


While all this is taking place, steam your broc for about 10-14 minutes. If you're good, this will all come together at the same time. Sometimes I'm good... last night, I was good.

To plate, serve your fish drizzled (or completely covered) in the balsamic butter sauce. Add broccoli and squeeze some fresh lemon on top to brighten the flavor a bit. And, if you're feeling rebellious, drizzle a little balsamic sauce on that too. Enjoy with a glass of wine and maybe a light salad on the side.

In all likelihood I will not post tomorrow. I meant it when I wrote that we are leaving tonight. In fact we are checking out a restaurant that prides itself on serving seasonal ingredients that are locally sourced. I can't wait. But this weekend will bring us great friends and therefore some very tasty (and knowing this couple, rather wild) culinary adventures. We're so lucky! The menu's been planned for three weeks. That's right, three weeks. I'll be sure to share all the juicy details (within reason, of course).


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