Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Tilapia with Orange, Almond and Olive Gremolata

As a consultant, Mike travels every week to a client site. He leaves painfully early Monday morning and comes home on Thursday night. Sometimes, he has a two-leg flight and doesn’t get back until 11:30 or midnight. Some lucky weeks, he gets back around 7:45, so I get to plan a nice dinner!

When he’s away, Mike either eats out with colleagues, trying to stick to semi-healthy menu items or gets room service, which is usually a club sandwich. By the end of the week, he’s craving healthy, homemade food. That’s fine with me, and that’s what I would be cooking anyway.

As I’ve mentioned, I have been on a soup kick lately, but last week I wanted something different. I had seen this recipe in Wednesday’s New York Times food section, and writer, Melissa Clark, couldn’t sing its praises (or its compatability with Campari) enough. After reading over 600 words on her enhanced interpretation of gremolata—the Italian condiment of garlic, parsley and lemon zest, often used to finish Osso Bucco—enhanced with juicy orange, good olives and roasted almonds, I was ready to give it a try.

I tend to cook fish fillets simply. Salmon, with its stripes of healthy fat, hardly needs more than salt and pepper when roasted. So, it was nice to do something that looked a bit more special, yet was as easy as a fish dish should be. All you do is mash some orange zest into a chunk of butter, spread onto firm white fish (I replaced her striped bass with very economical and delicious tilapia) and roast. Then you top it with the gussied-up gremolata.

I could have eaten the gremolata by itself, by the spoonful. The almonds and orange pieces were nice additions, though the combination of almonds and olives was not quite as transcendent as Clark suggested in her article. The citrus butter sounded like a good idea, but it didn’t do much to flavor the fish—I think it mostly rolled off in the oven. The very pretty gremolata topping provided plenty of flavor, but to me, the two elements--fish and relish--just didn’t mesh as well as I would have liked. But, if the gremolata appeals to you, try it! It’s easy to toss together, and I think it would be good with chicken, pork or even pasta, now that I think about it.

I didn’t do anything different really, so here’s the link to the original recipe. It’s nearly always worthwhile to try something new, and there tend to be more hits than misses in cooking. What recipes have you tried lately that sounded delicious, but just didn’t fly on (or maybe I should say, "off") the plate?


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Brilynn said...

That gremolata sounds wonderful! I really like fish but don't cook it nearly enough, especially considering how easy it is.