Sunday, February 12, 2012

Pan-Fried Tilapia Remix

Pan-fried tilapia is simply delicious, and if you need further justification of that statement, you can read about it in more detail in a one of my previous posts, singing its praises.  I usually don’t blog about the same dish twice, unless I find a way to improve it.  My recipe for tilapia recently received an upgrade, not by varying ingredients, but by varying the cooking vessel.  I recently purchased my very first cast iron pan, and my only regret is that I waited so long to do so.  This is not only an upgrade for tilapia, but also an improvement for my kitchen in general.  This is particularly good news for anything sautéed/pan-fried, as those foods always tastes best when they achieve a golden, brown hue.  Deeper color results in deeper flavor, and a crispier texture.  Cast iron pans help to maximize this “golden (brown) rule,” and my most recent batch of pan-fried tilapia exemplified this.  My new favorite pan yielded crispy, golden fish fillets that were perfectly moist on the inside.  Cast iron gets hotter than non-stick pans, which allowed for the beautiful color to develop quickly, without overcooking the fish.
I also made a dill-mustard cole slaw to go alongside my fish.  Cole slaw is a common side dish for fried fish for a reason: it is a perfect complement.  It’s like serving your fish with a refreshing, crunchy tartar sauce.  Creamy, crunchy, tart, and briny: pan-fried tilapia couldn’t ask for anything more.  The dressing was both creamy and vinegary, with a nice bite from spicy mustard, and bright from the addition of fresh dill.  Following the general trend of cole slaw, this one gets better as it sits, so I recommend making it at least 30 minutes to an hour before serving.  It will continue to get better over the next day or so, as well.

Pan-Fried Tilapia: click here

Mustard-Dill Cole Slaw (loosely based on the Food Network’s recipe)

                1/2 cup mayonnaise (I prefer olive-oil based)
                2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
                1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard, spicy brown mustard, or German mustard
                3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill (plus extra for garnish)
                Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
                1/2 head light-green cabbage, thinly sliced (about 6 cups)
                1 small carrot, shredded
                1 bunch scallions, white and light green parts, thinly sliced

-       Wisk together mayonnaise, vinegar, mustard, with about 20 grinds of fresh pepper and about ¼ teaspoon of kosher salt.
-       In a large bowl add the cabbage, carrot, and scallions.  Add about ¾ of the dressing and the dill.  Add more dressing if needed.  Garnish with dill when serving. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Turkey Burgers

I made these turkey burgers after I saw Anne Burrell whip them up on the Food Network.  She is truly a gifted lover and creator of food.  Her recipes are so thoughtful.  She has a reason for everything she does, and she doesn’t feel the need to dress up her show with phony stories about staged social events.  Sometimes that can be entertaining, but Anne Burrell’s straightforward quality is refreshing.
Her recipe for turkey burgers has a couple unexpected and lovely touches, such sautéed onions and garlic (so nice to have them present, but without any raw acrid flavor).  Also, the recipe included water chestnuts for crunch.  Anne also added some water to the mix to keep the burgers moist, and I fully support this.  The burgers are boldly flavored with soy sauce, fresh ginger, and cilantro.  I also appreciated that she took a burger with a blatant Asian flair, and gave it the full American-burger-treatment with cheese, buns, a spicy mayo, etc.  I recommend a thick slice of white cheddar melted on top.  Below is my version of her recipe. 

I made these burgers on a Sunday night and continued to enjoy them throughout the week.  My mom follows an exacting formula for heating up leftover burgers, and it worked well with these turkey burgers.  Start with a frozen bun/piece of bread; add the cold burger and a slice of cheese.  Then wrap the sandwich in a paper towel and microwave for 60 seconds.  I’m sure there’s other ways to do it as well; reheating burgers isn’t exactly a subtle art form.  However, a nice paper-towel-wrapped turkey burger is certainly a nice way to end your day, especially after a good spin class (I love spin class at the moment).  
Turkey Burgers (adapted from Anne Burrell)

½ lb. ground white meat turkey
¾ lb. ground turkey thigh
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2-4 teaspoons olive oil
1 8 oz can water chestnuts, chopped
¼ cup minced cilantro
2 inches fresh ginger, grated
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons Sriracha
Kosher salt
2-4 tablespoons water

Optional Garnishes:
Sliced cheddar cheese
Mayo mixed with Sriracha
Lettuce leaves

-       Sauté the diced onion in olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat for 5-10 minutes, until onion is very soft.  Season with salt and add minced garlic.  Sauté for an additional minute.  Remove from pan and set aside.  Wipe out the pan.
-       Gently mix onions/garlic with remaining ingredients with your hands.
-       With approximately a tablespoon of the turkey mixture, form a tiny burger patty.  Cook in the skillet about 2 minutes per side, and eat it in order to test for seasoning.  Adjust accordingly.
-       Form turkey mixture into 4 equal patties.  Cook over medium high heat with a drizzle of olive oil, cooking in batches as to not crowd the pan.  Burgers with need approximately 8 minutes per side to cook through.  When they are done, they will be firm to the touch.     
-       Add cheese to melt.  Make burgers with desired toppings. (It’s nice to leave some burgers without cheese so leftovers may have freshly melted cheese)