Most working folk I know don’t want to have to worry about spending too much after-work time in the kitchen prepping and cooking a healthy meal. Plus it gets mighty boring serving the same ol’ thang week after week, am I right? It pretty much floats my boat, even as a retiree, when I can assemble a nutrient-rich, colorful and flavorful meal and have it on the table in no more than 30 minutes.
Enter Seared Tilapia with Spicy Orange Salsa. Don’t care for tilapia? This zippy salsa is delicious with just about any type of fish or shellfish, including halibut, shrimp, and scallops. Serendipitously, we had some tilapia fillets in the freezer so they fit the bill for a Meatless Monday menu. I only cooked two fish fillets but was going to make the entire batch of salsa. But once I prepped two of the oranges, I knew it would be plenty—plus any extra wouldn’t hold up well if I tried saving it.
If you don’t want too much spicy heat, don’t use the entire chile. The recipe indicates to use the chile seeds although I think for many people, that would be overpowering. Even though we prefer spicy food, I decided to remove the jalapeño seeds and the salsa was plenty spicy without overwhelming.
The most labor-intensive aspect of the recipe is prepping the oranges and getting the individual segments lose from the membranes. If you’re not too adept at that, it may throw you over the 30-minute mark. Another quick time-saver, our side of garlicky sautéed spinach was an auxiliary nutrient booster, taking but mere minutes to prepare.
NOTE: The salsa can be made up to 2 hours ahead. Cover and keep at room temperature.
Seared Tilapia with Spicy Orange Salsa
- 4 medium navel oranges (about 2 lb.)
- 1/2 cup small-diced red onion
- 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
- 2 Tbs. fresh lime juice
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- Kosher salt
- 1 fresh serrano or jalapeño chile, minced (seeds included)
- 4 5-oz. tilapia fillets
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 Tbs. mild olive oil
- Using a sharp paring knife, cut off the ends of the oranges to expose a circle of flesh.
- Stand each orange on an end and pare off the rest of the peel, including all the white pith, in strips, following the curve of the orange.
- Working over a medium bowl, carefully cut on both sides of each orange segment to free it from the membranes. Then squeeze the membranes over the bowl to collect any remaining juice. Cut the segments crosswise into 4 pieces and return to the bowl.
- Add the onion, cilantro, lime juice, cumin, and 1 tsp. salt and gently stir to combine. Add enough of the chile to suit your taste and stir. Let stand at room temperature for at least 10 minutes to meld the flavors.
- Pat the fish dry and season with salt and pepper.
- Heat the oil in a 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering hot. Cook 2 of the fillets, flipping once, until browned and just cooked through, 1-1/2 to 2 minutes per side.
- Transfer to dinner plates. Repeat with the remaining fillets. Using a slotted spoon to drain excess juice, top the fish with the salsa and serve.
from Fine Cooking