It's A Keeper: John's Fish

This weekend my husband did something that I always wish he would do, but that he generally never does. No, I am not talking about buying my flowers (although, I wouldn't mind that!). He actually requested that I make a certain thing for dinner: John's Fish, which is Tilapia with Tomatillos and Avocado filled with Maque Choux. This one is named after Rachael Ray's husband, John, and is one of his recipes. The flavor is outstanding, especially if you don't like really fishy tasting fish. The tilapia soaks up all the smoky flavor from the cumin and the beer compliments the light texture and taste of the fish. Buy an extra lime, stick a slice in a Corona bottle and have it with dinner!

Tips: I recommend washing your hands immediately after chopping the jalapeno or holding the peppers with a paper towel with one hand while chopping the other. Otherwise, you will have jalapeno juice burning your hand all night.

Splitting: When I split meals in half, I usually make the whole recipe for the sauce, but this sauce could actually be split in half easily. I made the whole recipe for the sauce and had way too much. However, I did make the entire avocado recipe just for the two of us, so both of us ate an entire avocado. Avocados are good fat, right? I am looking forward to fresh corn in the summer instead of using the frozen.

This recipe can be found in Rachael Ray's 30 Minute Meals 2 Cookbook and on the Food Network website. Here is the full recipe with my comments in brackets:

1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds tilapia, 4 fillets [If the store does not have tilapia, you could use sole fillets]
Coarse salt
Ground pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin, eyeball it
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika, eyeball it
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan
1 lime, halved
1/2 medium red onion, chopped
1 jalapeno or serrano pepper, seeded and finely chopped [If you like it spicier, use the serrano]
2 or 3 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
8 to 10 tomatillos, husks peeled and diced [The ones at the store were big, so I only ended up using about 5 even for the full recipe]
1/2 bottled pale beer [I used Corona but I bet Dos Equis or Pacifica would be good too]
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves, a palmful, plus a few sprigs for garnish
Maque Choux:
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, 1 turn of the pan
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
4 ears fresh corn on the cob, husked [If no fresh corn is available or if it looks as icky as it did in my grocery store, substitute 2 cups frozen corn]
A sprinkle sugar [I used splenda, still tasted great!]
Dash cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons butter
2 ripe avocado
1 lime, juiced

Season fish with salt, pepper, cumin, paprika. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil, 1 turn of the pan. Heat an ovenproof serving plate in a warm oven. Saute fish 3 minutes on each side or until opaque. Squeeze the juice of 1/2 lime over the fish and carefully slide the fillets onto warm platter. Cover the fish to keep it warm. Return pan to heat and add remaining tablespoon of oil, 1 turn of the pan. Over medium high heat, quickly saute the red onion, jalapeno and the garlic. Saute a minute or so, add the diced tomatillos with seeds and juices. Season mixture with coarse salt and saute the mixture of vegetables 5 minutes.
Once you get your sauce working, get a second skillet hot over moderate heat for your maque choux. Add 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil (1 turn of the pan,) chopped onion, jalapeno and red bell pepper. Saute 2 or 3 minutes. Working on a plate to catch the milky juices, scrape corn off the cob. Break up the kernels and pour into the skillet. Combine corn with peppers and onions. Season with a sprinkle of sugar, a dash of cayenne pepper and salt. When mixture bubbles, reduce heat to simmer. Cut butter into pieces and stir into corn mixture. Allow mixture to simmer and cook until creamy, 5 to 7 minutes.

While corn is working, go back to your sauce for the fish. Add the beer and the juice of 1/2 lime and cilantro to the pan. Simmer sauce 5 minutes longer, then spoon hot sauce down over the fish filets. Garnish platter with a few extra sprigs of the cilantro.

Cut avocados in 1/2 lengthwise and remove pits. Squeeze lime juice over the avocados to keep them from browning and season them with a little coarse salt. Arrange on the serving plate.

To serve, fill the avocados with maque choux, allowing the corn to spill down and over the sides of the avocado onto the serving platter. The ripe avocado is spooned away from its skin with bites of creamy, warm corn and peppers. Place the avocados alongside garnished fish and enjoy with lime sorbet topped with raspberries and Grand Marnier.


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