Easy and elegant about sums up this recipe. Taking a rather basic fish (tilapia) and giving it a makeover to create something that pulls together in no time- Pecan Crusted Tilapia.
I haven’t made this in awhile, but figured it would make a great recipe to share if I could just nail down the elements and make it flawless in execution. The good news is that I sure did. I think starting with how this recipe came together is important as you may learn a thing or two from my trials and tribulations.
I first had a version of this recipe with chicken when I was up in New Hampshire with some of my friends’ family. The basic elements were a mustard coating the chicken, a pecan crust and a sour cream sauce- it was phenomenal. I never saw the people again and alas the recipe was lost to me. It then lead to a load of trials in the kitchen as I couldn’t shake how good it was. I eventually got stuck on tilapia in an effort to eat more fish, and that’s where things really began. I tried watering down the mustard and dipping the tilapia in it, and then in the pecans. The breading never really stuck and there wasn’t enough of a mustard taste. I also tried pan frying, and that stuck- well the breading that is. So far lots of yummy fails, but not the presentation and taste I wanted.
It was earlier this week after much research that I found the winning technique and recipe. Many chefs would probably laugh at the simplicity of my mistakes, but I’ve always found that you have to learn to stand on your own two feet. I make mistakes, but then I research a ton to learn where I went wrong (and be able to share with you)! I’m no expert of course, but we all start somewhere…
For something like fish or chicken in which you’re breading, you need a binder of sorts to hold a crust. Eggs work great, but when you want to impart flavor with something such as mustard, mayonnaise can be your friend. It also works amazing to lock in moisture, which is important if you’re substituting chicken in this recipe.
The next area was cooking techniques in which I had to nail down. I still don’t have the right tools to pan fry fish, but for a fail safe way to execute this recipe I found baking worked amazingly well. The breading stuck, and transferring from sheet to plate was easy. For chicken recipes in which breading was used, this is another great way to execute that so your presentation can be upheld, not to mention it’s a lot healthier than frying in oil!
Little things were learned along the way and made for new techniques in the kitchen to use at my disposal with the next round of recipes. So my from kitchen to yours,
Pecan Crusted Tilapia
1 1/2 cups of Pecans, halved
2 Tilapia filets
3 tablespoons Mustard, preferably Dijon (divided)
2 tablespoons Mayonnaise
1/4 cup of Sour Cream
2 tablespoons of Honey
Salt and Pepper
In a non-stick skillet on medium heat, place Pecans. Heat till slightly darker in color about 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and cool completely.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. On a baking sheet, place a Silpat mat or parchment paper. Brush Oil lightly over surface.
Once Pecans have cooled, place into a food processor until chopped finely. Place Pecan bits into a small bowl, and set aside. In another small bowl, combine Mayonnaise and 2 tablespoons of Mustard. Salt and pepper the Tilapia filets.
Dip one Tilapia filet into Mustard mixture. Place into Pecan bits and coat evenly, place onto baking sheet. Repeat process.
Depending on how thick your filets are depends on how long you’ll bake them for, 5-10 minutes should be plenty, so continue to check for desired doneness. Remove from oven.
In a small bowl combine remaining Mustard, Sour Cream and Honey. Place into a Ziplock bag and snip the edge to be able to drizzle over filets. Serve immediately.
Note: For presentation I served this with Red Rice and Asparagus. I cooked up two servings of Rice as per the package instructions. Once the Rice was cooked, I added two tablespoons of Butter, a dash of Lemon Juice and some Salt. Easy enough 🙂