Oven baked Tilapia with lime/lemon sauce
Fish, 1/2 kg ( 1 lb ) fresh or frozen(but thawed) see note 1
For the sauce
Butter, 2 tbsp
Flour, 2 tbsp
Water, 200 ml ( 6 + 3/4 oz )
Cream, 200 ml ( 6 + 3/4 oz )
Limes or Lemons, 2 juiced
230 °C ( 446 °F )
Materials and Methods
First the fish
This is not me. I swear!
How do I like fish? Fresh, clean taste and slightly Mediterranean-ish: Limes or lemons, oven baked or pan fried.
Well this is mostly not me. From time to time I do like a more complex flavored fish dish2. Brace yourself, this is one of them.
Are we fishing the hell out of the oceans? Probably(mostly certainly) we are. So I’m using farmed fish for this.
This one is called Thai Tilapia, I found that it is better tasting than regular tilapia.
Although this is a more complex dish than the regular it is still a simple dish, done in two stages.
First I make the lime and cream sauce then we add the sauce to raw fish and bake it.
Sauce and roux
Here is where I get classical french. The base for the 3 french mother sauces3 is roux.
So… What the frak is roux? I’ll tell you as soon as I babble about it a little bit more:
Calling it roux is one of those things that make you hate posh chefs.. Blanchè this, clarify that, make some roux.. Pffffff
Saying roux too much (as much as I have in this post) makes it very hard to not to call someone a douche
On the other hand it is a easy shortcut to say: Add equal parts of butter and flour to small pan and melt it in low heat until it begins to smell like those un-popped corn kernels that you find in popcorn.
By the way, to keep it in the realm of useless culture, the Portuguese (at least the pt_BR) language has a word for that: piruá. Isn’t it cute?
It is very simple to make it, but there are rules:
First: add the butter and flour to the pan, keep the heat low and stir it slowly.
First the butter will melt and bind with the flour in a dough, it will look like a sponge(a weird one at least). Don’t panic, keep stirring.
Then it will “melt” again bubble and increase in size. Don’t panic, keep stirring.
Finally it will “melt” a third time and look like a dense soup. You get it: Don’t panic, keep stirring until it smells like un-popped corn kernels and the roux is light brown.
Ok now is the dangerous part. If you mess up now it will be all lumpy.
For this recipe the liquid I’m using water, but it might as well be milk for a sauce bechamel or chicken stock for a gravy.
Remove from heat and wait 30 seconds, then add a quarter of the liquid and stir vigorously.
Keep adding liquid in small increases and most important keep stirring.
When all the liquid has been incorporated, hopefully with no lumps, return to the stove in low heat.
Here is where the instructions diverge from the common sauce. When you return to the stove, add the cream and stir it until the sauce starts to boil.
Once the sauce with the cream is simmering again, add the lime/lemon juice. A word of caution, if you add it before, it will curd the cream. Once cream has boiled it is safe to add acids to it.
Pre heat the oven while you are at it.
Place the fish in a oven proof vessel, salt to taste and cover with the sauce.
As a optional step here you might cover the fish with sage leaves before adding the sauce. I was planning on doing that, but the last rains have left my sage plant a little bit on the pitiful side.
Bake it for 20 to 30 minutes, depending on how thick is your fish.
Serve and have fun.
1I was making food for two and I wanted a lot of sauce, but you might double or triple the amount of fish without increasing the amount of sauce.
2Other examples that come to mind are moqueca (Brazilian fish stew that follow some very strict unwritten rules), fish with Hungarian sauce (which as far as I know is as Hungarian as James Bond).
3Bechamel if it is thickened with milk, Veloute if is thickened with stock and the other one.
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