It's a Keeper: Tilapia with Tomatillos and Avocados filled with Maque Choux

If someone were to force me to name my favorite Rachael Ray recipe, I would probably hem and haw, then say Tilapia with Tomatillos and Avocados filled with Maque Choux. This is a recipe from my first Rachael Ray cookbook, 30 Minute Meals 2. In the cookbook, it's called John's Fish, since Rachael's husband John came up with the recipe.

This is another one of those recipes that I point to when people criticize Rachael. It involves fresh fish, fresh vegetables, and exciting flavors. Plus, have you ever tried tomatillos? I sure hadn't when I first made this recipe. That alone will make you proud of yourself. This recipe just screams summer - maybe it's the corn?

If you are new to cooking, you should definitely try this one out (or if you're a pro, you should try it, too). There's a fair amount of chopping involved, so it usually takes me about 40 minutes to make. Once you make the recipe for the avocados with maque choux, you will begin craving it. Don't say I didn't warn you.

1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds tilapia, 4 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 [I pick the jalapeno, since it's not quite as hot.]
2 or 3 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
8 to 10 tomatillos, husks peeled and diced [You also have to rinse them off really well, since they have a sticky sorta layer on the outside, under the husk.]
1/2 bottled pale beer [Go for a Mexican brand like Corona, Pacifica, or Modelo.]
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
A sprinkle sugar
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 [I turn the oven on to 350 and put a casserole dish in there to let it heat up. Once the oven gets up to 350, I turn it off and just let it sit in there.]

Saute fish 3 minutes on each side or until opaque. [It really only takes 3 minutes of each side.] 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. [Just take the dish out of the oven, place the fish on it, then cover the dish with foil and leave it out of the oven.]

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. [Mine are never juicy, so I just add a little extra beer.} 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 fillets. 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 [the lime sorbet dessert is not included in the cookbook version].


  1. Wow, if it's your favorite RR recipe, then I'll have to try it! Although I will admit that the amount of chopping involved is a tad intimidating...

  2. I have had a couple friends try it who loved it and a couple who didn't. But it definitely is my favorite.

    Just be careful when you clean the jalapenos so that you touch the inside as little as possible - otherwise your fingers will burn all night! I use a paring knife or a spoon to clean them out.

  3. I love this recipe! I had never tried tomatillos before trying her recipe either. Beautiful picture.

  4. Summer - thank you for the compliment! I'm trying to learn to take better pictures of my food to try to do it justice.

  5. great recipe...looks so lovely...thx for sharing

  6. Dilip - you are welcome, you should give it a try!


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