I have a lot of fond memories as a kid growing up in Dearborn, Michigan and eating at a local hot-spot, Brown's Fish & Chips. The place was always busy, or so it seemed, and while the menu was fairly limited to "fried everything," the food was always good. Plus, growing up Catholic it seemed like we had fish on a lot of Friday's. Even now, I look forward to the Lenten season so I can taken in some of the wonderful fish frys hosted by some of the old Detroit parishes. I've been to a lot of them and in my mind the fish dinners at St. Francis and at Sweetest Heart of Mary are about the best you'll get anywhere. But, as wonderful as a good piece of battered cod or lake perch can be, it's good to take a break from the deep fryer every once in a while!
The word "tilapia" is one that I can't recall hearing when I was growing up. I'm sure there was such a fish, but not in the world I lived in. Then, all of a sudden, tilapia began appearing on menus everywhere. I understand the appeal. It is a very mild, light fish that is versatile and easy to prepare. It's now something that I try to always keep on-hand.
This recipe is just one way to prepare tilapia, but it's my "go-to" because it's quick, simple and uses ingredients that are almost always in the pantry. And it tastes good. Even people who are not big fish fans enjoy this version of tilapia. It has a nice, crunchy exterior, and the fish remains flaky and moist. On those days when you want to take a break from meat and fried foods, don't crack open a box of fish sticks, give this a try!
Parmesan Topped Tilapia
4-6 tilapia fillets (fresh or frozen, if frozen they should be thawed and patted dry)
1 cup panko-style bread crumbs
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 TBSP parsley (fresh or dried)
1 TBSP chives (fresh or dried)
1/2 tsp pepper (or to taste)
1/2 stick butter or margarine, melted in pie plate or shallow dish
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper or spray generously with non-stick cooking spray. Combine panko bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, herbs and pepper in a pie plate or shallow dish. Make sure tilapia fillets are patted dry. Roll both sides of fish in melted butter/margarine and then dredge in crumb mixture. Make sure there is a generous coating on BOTH sides of the fish. Transfer to baking sheet. Repeat with all fillets. Put sheet into oven for 15 minutes - they should be golden brown on the top. Serve immediately. Enjoy!