06 June 2011

Baked Tilapia with Fresh Herbs

As I mentioned in my last post, I went to the beach with friends over Memorial Day weekend. I love being close to the water and eating fresh seafood. We ate fish tacos, blackened fish, grilled shrimp, boiled shrimp and scallops. There's nothing like eating seafood while listening to the waves hit the shore. You'd think that after a weekend of the fresh stuff, I'd be good for a little while, but this past week back in Nashville, I still wanted fish, so I baked some tilapia I had in the freezer. Then I filled my kitchen sink with water, pointed a fan on it and closed my eyes while I ate. (I didn't really do that.)

I like fish. I usually eat it once a week. When I was little, I remember watching my uncles go fishing. I tried it with them one time and I thought it was so boring. I was way too impatient to sit there and wait for something to bite. Now days I think I'd appreciate the peace and calm in the waiting. I've also always thought I'd love to fly fish. I have relatives in Montana--that's where my mom's family is from--so one of these days I will head back to the homestead and learn to cast a fly. And I will catch trout. And I will cook it over a campfire. Trout cooked over an open fire sounds pretty amazing. 

That actually reminds me of the summer that I lived on Mt. Rainier, and my friends and I took a trip to the Olympic Coast. We camped on the beach and caught live dungeness crabs with our bare hands straight from the ocean. Then we boiled them over a fire that we also made with our bare hands. By "we" I mean the guys I was with, but I was there and it was still one of the most incredible meals I've ever eaten...

Back to the fish. Even if you don't look like Brad Pitt in "A River Runs Through It" or you're currently landlocked like me, you too can make and eat delicious fish--without the hassle or mess of putting a worm on a hook or starting a fire with two sticks.

Having some fresh herbs handy is helpful. Under the close instruction of a gardener friend, I finally planted my first herb garden. So even though my fish wasn't fresh, my herbs were. I still have some herbs that I want to add, but this is a good start! The thymeing of it was just perfect for this recipe. (SORRY! That was a little too cheesy, even for this blog.)

Here's what I did: I thawed the tilapia fillets and poured grapeseed oil over them. Then I sprinkled sea salt on top and added a generous amount of basil (I still don't have fresh basil, so I used dried) and fresh rosemary and thyme. I baked them at 425F for 6 minutes then flipped the fillets and baked for another 6 minutes (bake for less time after you flip if the fillets are thin).

Neither the herbs nor the fish is too overpowering in this dish. Tilapia has a mild flavor, so herbs generally used in Italian cooking go well with it. Give it a try and let me know how you like it. I'm thinking that I probably need to do some more research on pairing fish and Italian herbs. 

Anyone want to finance a trip to the Italian coast? It would be in the name of scientific research, of course: the effects of herbs on local marine life inside my stomach. Very important stuff people.


  1. It helped that those crabs we caught "bare handed" were hanging out in a tide pool:)

  2. Haha, that's true. I should clarify that "we" (the boys) caught them with our bare hands straight from the [tide pools created when the] ocean [was at low tide]. :)