Baked Tilapia Anyone?

We learned to love Nile Tilapia when we lived in Uganda. This fish was the only one we could get guaranteed fresh every day. Now of course we have a huge variety of fresh fish and other sea food right here at our doorstep, and we can only get farm raised tilapia, but I still buy it every now and then. Normally I would just pan fry it (parmesan crusted!) and serve with small potatoes and a cold dill-based mayo-sour cream sauce, but last night I decided to prepare it in the oven. This is a recipe I created many years ago, but had not tried recently. It’s truly simple to make and guaranteed delicious! Here’s how I threw it all together.

As you may know from my previous cooking posts, I cook creatively from the ingredients I find in the fridge, so here’s what I had (for two people – you can scale it up by counting one large fillet per person and adding more wine, cream & cheese to the sauce):

3 small/medium-sized tilapia fillets

little less than 1/2 pint/2 dl cream

about 1/2 bag (4 oz/110 g) shredded part-skim mozzarella/Philadelphia cheese ( you can also use shredded swiss/Philadelphia mix or any light swiss cheese spread, like Laughing Cow wedges)

2 leeks

about 1/2 glass of white wine, and

spices.

First I preheated the oven to 350F/175C. Then seasoned the tilapia fillets with lemon pepper and lemon & herbs spices (add salt if needed), put them into an oven dish,  sprinkled over the leeks (cut in small pieces), poured in the white wine to almost cover the fish, and “pre-baked” the fish under lid for about 15 minutes.

In the meantime, I prepared the cheese-cream sauce. I mixed 2 table spoons of flour (vary depending on how thick sauce you want) with olive oil, added the cream before the flour browned and then mixed in the cheese slowly. I let it all simmer together for a couple of minutes (you can add salt and pepper to taste if desired, I didn’t). The sauce should be very thick at this point.

When the tilapia had pre-baked, I took some of the liquid/wine and added it to the sauce to achieve desired consistency, and discarded most of the rest. Make sure you don’t leave too much wine around the fish – it doesn’t need to swim any more!  Next, I poured the sauce over the fillets and baked for an additional 25 minutes so that the cheese was lightly browned on the top.

You can serve this dish with wild or brown rice or small potatoes, sautéed asparagus and a fresh salad. I happened to have a few previously boiled small potatoes so I put them into the oven to heat up and sprinkled some of the shredded cheese on the top.

Very simple and yummy tilapia dinner. Enjoy!

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