Friday, June 8, 2012

Foodie Fridays: Tequila Lime Tilapia With Cilantro Oil

One of the things I love most about Joplin is its abundance of great places to eat.  Over the years the local restaurant scene, much like the local art scene, has grown and flourished.  Just about every cuisine imaginable can be found in this small city - Thai, Mexican, Chinese, Italian, barbecue, sushi – you name it, we have a local chef who specializes in it.  Here on “Foodie Fridays” I will choose a local restaurant, specialty store, or chef to highlight and share some of my thoughts on why I think they are successful and how they enhance our community with their artistry.

Tequila and cilantro - a fine culinary combination!

Not long ago Joplin was home to Amore’ Cooking Center.  This innovative specialty store sold kitchen accessories and appliances and also hosted several cooking classes.  I had the good fortune to attend a couple of classes and learned some valuable cooking techniques that I still employ in my kitchen today.  Sadly, Amore’ has been replaced by a home interiors store, but the recipes live on in my personal collection, and I‘d like to share one of my favorites with you today.

We prepared the original recipe, Tequila Lime Chicken With Cilantro Oil, as part of a tapas class I took.  However, this recipe works well with tilapia to create an entrée that will feed a family of six – just like ours.

Tequila Lime Tilapia With Cilantro Oil

¾ cup tequila
¼ cup white wine vinegar
Juice of 3 limes
½ cup lemon oil (see note)
5 large shallots – peeled and chopped (you can substitute ½ of a red onion for the shallots)
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro – plus one large bunch of cilantro (leaves only)
2 teaspoons minced garlic
5-6 tilapia filets
½ cup canola (or olive) oil

In a small non reactive (not metal) container combine ½ cup tequila with the vinegar and lime juice.  Whisk in the lemon oil.  When well emulsified, stir in the shallots, chopped cilantro and 1 teaspoon of the minced garlic.  Pour into a no reactive, shallow container (I use a pyrex dish).  Place the tilapia filets in the marinade.  Cover and marinate one hour.  Place remaining cilantro with ¼ cup tequila and 1 teaspoon of garlic into a blender.  Pulse to combine.  With the motor running, slowly add the canola oil processing until the mixture is thick and bright green.  Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.

When ready to serve, remove tilapia from marinade.  Place fish in a saute’ pan over high heat when the pan is very hot, but not smoking.  Work in batches if necessary.  Sear 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until the tilapia is just cooked through.  Remove tilapia to a serving platter and top with cilantro dressing.

This dish is wonderful accompanied by a mixed green salad with blueberries, feta cheese, and lemon dressing (juice from one lemon whisked together with ½ cup of canola oil and approximately ¼ cup of sugar).  Jasmine rice rounds out the citrusy flavors of this meal, and tastes wonderful with a little cilantro oil drizzled on top.

A crisp, slightly sweet white wine such as a Pinot Grigio or this new wine I found recently at Price Cutter, Funf 5 – “sassy white”.  It’s yummy!

Bon appetit!


  1. I LOVE Tilapia! I will have to try this recipe.

  2. Yum, Dawn! Have to confess I haven't had tilapia yet, but this sounds great... I'll try doing it with some yelloweye (snapper) this season. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Oh, this would be DELICIOUS with snapper! Thanks for stopping by, Tele!