Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Risotto Verdict and Tilapia Piccata: The Recipe

Check out this recipe on my new and improved website:

Risotto: The Verdict
Last week's risotto was a huge success... and I mean HUGE. We made enough risotto to feed a small country... Maldives, perhaps? And it was so much fun to see how three risotto recipes, which all looked and tasted identical during the initial stages of cooking, became completely unique by the end.

While making three risottos was a little bit daunting at first, knowing that the basic steps stayed the same was a comfort:
1. Saute onion in butter
2. Toss in the rice and coat it in the butter
3. Add broth one ladle at a time, stirring like a maniac and letting it all absorb before adding more
4. Once the rice is al dente and the liquid amount is to your liking (some like it dry, others like it soupy), toss in parmesan cheese and any other mix-in you want.
5. Serve hot and enjoy!

A beautiful picture from, a lovely blog for little kitchens
Moving on... all about Piccata
Chicken Piccata is a staple of American restaurants with a varied menu. That's right... I said American restaurants. It's actually fairly rare to see Chicken Piccata on the menu of Italian restaurants. In NYC, I searched Piccolo Angolo, L'Impero, Babbo, Pepolino, Po, and Pasquale's Rigoletto, and there was no Chicken Piccata. Or Fish Piccata. In fact, I only found one Veal Piccata. It is far more likely to see it on the menus of places such as California Pizza Kitchen, Pete's Tavern, and TGI Fridays. Now, that does not mean that Piccata is of low quality. It does, however, mean that it is not fully Italian. Italian-influenced may be the better term to use.

I have been interested in understanding the basic components of Piccata for a while, and it now seems quite simple. Marlene Sorosky Gray, writing for the San Francisco Chronicle, explored different restauranteurs' takes on the four basic components (the more traditional ingredient is in italics):
-Liquid: broth, wine, sherry
-Citrus: lemon, orange, lime
-Cured flavors: capers, marinated artichokes, piquillo peppers
-Accents: parsley, garlic, nuts

I'll be keeping it pretty classic with some tilapia coated in flour, browned in the butter/oil with some shallots, then removed so I can deglaze the pan with lemon juice, wine, and broth. A quick return to the pan, a sprinkle of parsley, and we're good to go. I plan to serve the fish on a bed of orzo with whole roasted artichokes. The pan sauce will be a perfect dip for the artichoke leaves, and I have an odd fascination with orzo. Pasta that looks like rice? Double carb heaven!

The Recipe: Tilapia Piccata, adapted from Giada de Laurentiis on The Food Network
Yield: 4 servings


  • 4 tilapia filets
  • salt and pepper
  • flour, enough for dredging
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 5 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, sliced very thin
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup vegetable stock
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1/8 cup brined capers, rinsed
  • 1/3 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped


  • Season fish with salt and pepper. Dredge in flour and shake of excess.
  • In a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt 2 tbsp buter with 3 tbsp oil. When melted, add two pieces of tilapia and cook for 3-4 minutes.
  • When the bottom is browned (don't the fish move around until this happens!), flip and cook the other side for 3-4 minutes.
  • Remove the fish from the pan and set aside. Refill the pan with 2 tbsp butter and 3 tbsp oil and repeat the cooking process with the remaining tilapia filets.
  • Once all filets are browned and out of the pan, toss the shallots in the pan with the remaining butter until soft.
  • Remove the pan from the heat. Add the lemon juice, wine, stock, and capers to the pan. Return to the heat and bring to a boil, scraping off the cooked bits of flour and fish.
  • Return the fish to the pan and simmer for about 3 minutes. Take out the fish and plate. Add the final 2 tbsp of butter and whisk vigorously.
  • Pour the sauce over the plated fish and garnish with parsley.

Days to memorize: 2 (oops... that's what happens when you are sick and forget what day it is!)

No comments:

Post a Comment