Tilapia enjoys a happy coincidence, its sustainability accelerating smartly with its increased popularity.  As ever more people appreciate the fish’s flavor and culinary versatility, the industry has discovered the freshwater creature adapts particularly well to farm production, ensuring the supply will match demand.

Today features two, or perhaps three, recipes from the January/February 2019 Cook’s Illustrated, Sautéed  Tilapia with Cilantro Chimichurri, and Sautéed Mushrooms with Red Wine and Rosemary.   This was the first time Cook’s Illustrated featured tilapia, and it’s also the fish’s inaugural appearance on these pages.

A light sear in a hot skillet is enough to brown the filets and to bring out their gentle nuttiness.  That’s all it takes, actually, as tilapia’s mildness favors a simple approach.  This is an ideal preparation for those who don’t particularly care for fish; for we who suffer no such prohibition, however, the fish goes beyond that, to divinity.

Besides, the chimichurri that tops the filets has flavor enough to spare.  Those familiar with the Argentine sauce know of its wonderful ability to coax a sensory explosion from a few simple ingredients.   This preparation takes just chopped cilantro and garlic, seasoned with oregano and vinegar, and bathed in good olive oil.  This combination pulls the bashful fish on to the dance floor.

The mushrooms are a great way to enhance this celebration, particularly as they brought wine.  The mushrooms are sautéed twice, first in butter, rosemary and shallots, and then in vinegar and red wine.   The two-step process coats the caps with a thick, tasty glaze, and the wine and rosemary sound ethereal notes above the harmony.

Unlike many catches, tilapia is “sourced responsibly,” making it supremely sustainable.  The prospect will lighten your conscience, while the taste delights the palate.  A win on both counts, not a bad achievement for something raised in, effectively, a giant aquarium.


Sautéed Tilapia

  • 4 (5- to 6-ounce) tilapia filets
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • lemon wedges, for serving

Place the tilapia on a cutting board and sprinkle both sides with salt.  Let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes.

Cut each filet in half lengthwise, using as a guide the seam that runs down the middle.  This will result in two halves, one thick and the other thin.

Place a large skillet over a high flame and pour in the oil.  When the oil just begins to smoke, add the thick tilapia halves.  When the undersides are golden-brown, 2 to 3 minutes, flip the fish and continue cooking for another couple minutes, until the other side also is golden-brown.  Transfer the fish to serving platter.

Return the skillet to the heat and, when the oil just begins to smoke again, add the thin fish halves. Cook for about one minute per side, until the fish is light brown.

Add fish to the serving platter and serve with lemon wedges.


Cilantro Chimichurri

  • 2 tablespoons hot water
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh parsley (*1)
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

In a small bowl combine the water, red wine vinegar and the rosemary.  Let stand for 5 minutes.

Add the parsley, cilantro, garlic, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes.  Stir to combine.

Whisk in the olive oil until incorporated.


1 – I much prefer cilantro to parsley, as the latter is too bitter.  As a result, I used double the cilantro (one cup) and none of the parsley.


Sautéed Mushrooms with Red Wine and Rosemary

  • 1 and 1/2 pounds mushrooms (*2)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth

Place a skillet over a high flame and add the mushrooms and water.  Heat, stirring occasionally, until the water is nearly evaporated and the mushrooms begin to sizzle, about six minutes.

Reduce the flame to medium-high and add the vegetable oil to the mushrooms.  Toss to coat.   Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are browned, about six minutes more.  Reduce flame to medium.

Push mushrooms to the sides of the skillet, creating an exposed “well” in the center.  Add the butter to the “well.”  When it has melted, add the shallot, rosemary, salt and pepper.  Stir constantly until aromatic, about 30 seconds.

Add the wine and the vinegar and stir into the mushrooms.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid evaporates, about 3 minutes.  Add the broth and cook, stirring occasionally, until the glaze is reduced by half, about 3 minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste, and serve.


2 – Use whatever type of mushroom that appeals to you and fits your budget; one kind, or a variety.  I chose half a pound each of button mushrooms, cremini and shitake.

Naturally, the larger mushrooms will require some prep work, such as removing the stems from the shitakes and quartering the caps, or halving and even quartering some of the larger buttons and creminis.




23 thoughts on “Aquaculture

  1. I am definitely going to replicate this dish, but maybe with chicken. Unfortunately, my husband does not like both fish and mushrooms. I will substitute the fish, but never the mushrooms, not matter what!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Much appreciated, Angela!

      Oh my, certainly, go where your imagination leads. After all, recipes are a process, not a destination.

      By now, you know what a poultry fiend I am. Thus, you’ll get the highest praise for substituting chicken for just about anything.

      What is it that puts your husband off mushrooms – is the taste, or is it the texture? Little matter. When you put your mind to it, you’ll convert him yet.

      Let the tests begin! Angela’s Delicious Experiment #47…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My opinion too, Angela. I don’t begrudge anyone his tastes – or lack of the same – and I secretly root for the naysayers, as their disdain increases the available supply.

        I’d love to know what put your husband off mushrooms, though. Most likely, as is the case for us all, something he experienced in early childhood.

        Promise me, please, when you discover a working time machine, your first trip will be to go back and rescue your then-future husband from a life’s calamity.

        “OK, who is this woman, and why doesn’t she want me to try these mushrooms? Just, wow!”

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Of course, if your mission is successful, this whole exchange will disappear.

        Instead, we’ll be going back-and-forth in response to your original comment –

        “I’m going to keep this recipe to myself and prepare it when my husband isn’t home. Because, believe me, if there are mushrooms in the house, that man will devour them all before they make it to the plate. Seriously, the man’s a fanatic!”

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Warming compliment, Angela. It means much!

        As your current continuation, and perhaps improvement, of Homer illustrates, this really is your area of expertise.

        When you think of it… Wait, what’s happening here? This whole post is fading! It only can mean one thing, that your quest was a successful one, to change the one thing, far in the past, that deprived your husband a lifetime of mushrooms.

        Obviously, then, at any second, this whole thing is liable to….

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I love the thought of seasonings being seasoned with seasonings… but then bathed in olive oil, too? Run that bath for me any day!

    I haven’t been much of a fish lover throughout my life but I’ve been thinking about giving it another chance… still just in the thinking phase. I’m definitely on board with the sauteed mushrooms though and the cilantro chimichurri just sounds devine!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Why thank you, JoAnn!

      Your affinity suggests you love focaccia too. Yep, I knew it – me too!

      Your willingness to consider fish is commendable, and experience will exceed your expectations someday. In the meantime, you may want to try chicken breast.

      I mean, of course, what else would a poultry fiend suggest? Yes there’s that, but chicken would retain most of what makes this dish memorable, while avoiding any unpleasantries. After all, cooking’s all about exulting, not enduring.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Me too, Crystal!

      If I ever did this whole vegetarian thing, the entire effort would be a failure, were it not for mushrooms’ mighty aid.

      Of course, poultry and shellfish never would let me cheat on them anyway, making the whole discussion moot.


      1. I did go with a plant-based diet for about a year. I liked it and lost weight without much effort. That was while we rebuilt our house and had no kitchen. Now Kody’s back to cooking, so I’ve changed my ways. Sometimes I think I should try it again.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Just curious, Crystal…do you garden? Of course, the local farmers’ market would bring many of the same benefits.

        Maybe you won’t go all-in again for vegetarianism, but I wouldn’t be surprised to read the impulse has encouraged you to add more veggies to your and to Kody’s diets. I know I’ve been making a broader and a more consistent use of vegetables since I started this food blog.


      3. Are you trying to guess my G? I think one day I might garden, but I kill most of my houseplants. I do love a good farmer’s market, and I also love my vegetables more than ever. That sounds like a fun outing. It has been awhile.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Maybe.

        Growling? Nah, that doesn’t fit you at all.

        How about Grinning? That makes more sense. Guessing? No, no. That’d be me, like, right now.

        Grapefruiting? WordPress just underscored that with a red squiggly line. Obviously, it’d have me believe “grapefruiting” isn’t a real word. The devil it isn’t! How else would you label doing everything grapefruit-related? Actually, “grapefruiting” is the perfect term for it.

        There, covered all the bases, didn’t I? When I check out your blog tomorrow and see you chose “grapefruiting,” we both will know where you got the idea, but we’ll keep that part on the hush-hush.


      5. Well thank you, Crystal.

        It’s good “grapefruiting” never was called up to the majors, because “Google” – both the noun and the verb – just won the World Series. “Grapefruting” just would have embarrassed itself.

        Thanks for giving it consideration, though. Now it can tell its grandchildren about that spring day, back in ’21, when it almost made the Astros’ practice team!


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