- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 7, 2004

Tilapia, fine-textured white fish, is used as the base in an easy, brightly seasoned dish. If you can’t find tilapia the day you want to make the dish, rockfish fillets will do equally well.

The recipe, which takes 25 minutes start to finish, is among the 350 offered in “The Best of Gourmet: Featuring the Flavors of Rome” (Random House).

Besides the featured section on Roman-Italian cooking, the book offers a wide choice of suggested menus for occasions grand and casual, for all seasons. Many of the finished dishes are shown in glossy color photos.

This fish dish is part of a menu that balances a crispy, spicy duck salad with the tilapia main course, followed by a creamy caramel flan for dessert.

Pan-seared tilapia with chili-lime butter

The chili-lime butter can be made 1 day ahead, then covered and chilled. Bring to room temperature before using.


½ stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened

1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot

1 teaspoon finely grated fresh lime zest

2 teaspoons fresh lime juice

1 teaspoon minced fresh Thai or serrano chili (preferably red), including seeds

½ teaspoon salt


6 5- to 6-ounce pieces skinless tilapia fillet, or farm-raised rockfish fillets with skin

½ teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

To make the chili-lime butter: Stir together butter, shallot, zest, lime juice, chili and salt in a bowl.

To prepare the fish:

If using rockfish, score skin in 3 or 4 places with a thin, sharp knife to prevent fish from curling (do not cut through flesh). Pat fish dry and sprinkle it with salt.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over moderately high heat until just smoking, then saute 3 pieces of fish, turning over once with a spatula, until golden and just cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes total, and transfer to a plate. Saute remaining fish in remaining oil in the same manner.

Serve each piece of fish with a dollop of chili lime butter.

Makes 6 servings.


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