March 31, 2013 by Jason Rice MD
This was not the meal I set out to make. For Good Friday, I planned to make my take on tilapia tacos… I planned to roast the tilapia with some cumin, garlic and lime juice, serve it over a bed of shredded cabbage and top it off with a a fresh salsa/salad of cherry tomato, onion, garlic, scallion and avocado tossed with a little more lime juice. (The recipe for this dish is located at the bottom of this post – I still believe it would have been awesome!)
However, after getting the fish in the oven, I was (stupidly) racing to get the salsa components chopped and ready to plate. And, it turns out that a large blade, slippery avocado and a fleshy appendage flanked with a wedding band are not exactly the best of friends when speed is involved. (Yep, I got careless with my avocado and put a nasty whack into my ring finger.)
My train of thought went something like this…
- Oh no, that’s gonna need stitches.
- I don’t want to wait in the ER all night to get stitches.
- I’m not getting stitches.
- I can clean this up and fix it myself – it’ll be fine.
- If I just wrap this tightly and slather it with antibiotic ointment, it’ll heal just fine.*
- I better get that fish out of the oven…
At this point, the pain from my hand brought on by a gash soaked in lime juice had pretty much done in my appetite. I served the fish to the little guy and the wife, and she was thoughtful enough to put my fish in the fridge for later. We topped the fish with the salsa (minus the avocado, which wasn’t even ripe after all of this had happened), and no bed of cabbage, as I hadn’t gotten around to shredding it yet. They still enjoyed it despite the missing ingredients.
Fast forward a few hours later. The pain had (somewhat) subsided, and I was getting hungry. I had cold salsa and a cold tilapia fillet in the fridge. I decided to break up the fish and mix it with the salsa. I added a little more lime juice, salt, black pepper and some fresh cilantro. I put it all in a bowl, tossed to combine and ate it up with some tortilla chips.
Basically, it was “ceviche” – but not really. Ceviche is created by using raw fish and “cooking” it in an acid like lime juice. This fish was already cooked. But, ceviche sounds better than “cold tilapia I flaked apart and added to some salsa.”
The original plan was as follows (and includes the method I used to cook the fish I used above):
- 2 tilapia fillets
- 2 limes
- Cherry tomatoes
- Red onion
- Green onion
- Green bell pepper
- Cabbage (I used savoy, whatever you like is fine)
- Salt and pepper
- Fresh cilantro
- Tortilla chips
Preheat oven to 450. Place tilapia on a non-stick cooking sheet. Cover with the juice of half a lime and season with salt, pepper and cumin. Place 2-3 pats of butter over the fish. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until fish is cooked through and flakes easily.
While your fish is cooking, CAREFULLY, dice the tomato, onion, bell pepper and avocado and add to a mixing bowl. Slice the white and green portions of the green onions and add them as well. Season with salt, pepper and then juice of one lime and toss gently to coat all the veggies with the seasoning and lime juice.
Shred the cabbage either in a food processor or by hand (or use pre-shredded cabbage if you wish).
Pull the fish out of the oven. Plate over a bed of shredded cabbage. Top with the fresh salsa. Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve with tortilla chips.
See…would have been pretty tasty. I didn’t add any heat since I was making it for the whole family, but you could certainly add some jalapeno or serrano chiles to the salad for a little kick. Some day I will give this another shot, and I will definitely be more careful with my knife work.
*If you injure yourself, you should seek medical attention. I made a brief assessment of my hand, and made a gamble, but I likely should have gotten stitches. No meal is worth infection or permanent injury, so be safe and be smart(er than I was )