I love tilapia fillets, versatile, widely available and inexpensive. I always use the large ones (7 to 9 ounces), they never let me down or go to pieces on me during the cooking process. I serve it quite often when my husband and I spend shabbos alone, and want to stick to our easy and lean Sephardi stovetop favorites. You have a lot of poetic license for this recipe, so I will include all basic ingredients on the basic list, and list the rest as optional.
Fresh tomatoes and sliced lemon are what makes this dish so delicious, bold and fragrant, and are a constant. The rest is added when I want to turn this dish into a more substantial main course. Any way you make it is fantastic.
- 2 cups water
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 3 bay leaves, or 1/2 teaspoon ground
- good pinch red pepper flakes
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 large thick-skin lemon, sliced very thin
- 2 large plum tomatoes, sliced very thin
- 4 large tilapia fillets
Bring the water, oil, and all spices to boil in a large skillet. add the lemon, tomatoes and fish, and bring to a boil again. Reduce the flame to medium and cook, covered, about 15 minutes. Check the cooking liquid in the skillet: If it is too thin, reduce on a high flame (it will take a minute or so), watching it so your sauce doesn't dry out. Serve hot, or at room temperature.
Optional additions: Short and sweet selection, not all at once please!
- Throw in 2 dozen baby potatoes at the same time you bring the liquid and spices to a boil.
- Throw in a red pepper, sliced thin, at the same time you bring the liquid and spices to a boil.
- Throw in 4 cloves garlic, minced, and/or 1 medium onion, sliced very thin, at the same time you bring the liquid and spices to a boil.
- Throw in 2 dozen pitted and sliced green olives, or 1/4 cup small capers. In this case no added salt in the recipe.
- Throw in a head fennel, thinly sliced, at the same time you add the tomatoes etc....
- Throw in a dozen leaves Swiss chard, sliced, at the same time you add the tomatoes etc....
- Throw in some sliced basil leaves
- throw in some frozen artichoke hearts or bottoms
- All-vegetarian: Omit the fish altogether, and add your favorite optional ingredients above. Here you can use a wider selection