Lula’s Curried Tilapia
So, for lots of us (and the grocery stores) fish is in store for the next few weeks – and I want to give you a helpful tip to keep your at home fish from being tough and dry.
Fish (any kind) contains ALOT of water and has a very loose protein structure that makes cooking fish a delicate process. You just don’t want to over cook fish, because fish, more than any other protein, has dramatic “carry-over” cooking.
What is carry over cooking? Well…you follow instructions when roasting meet to “let it rest” to re-absorb juices, right? Well, it’s also finishing the cooking process right there on the counter. That’s why most cookbooks/instructions tell you that medium rare is 130 degress…but they tell you to pull your meat from the heat at 125 degrees.
Same for fish, and funnily enough, when you cook your fish at a higher temperature, the carry over cooking is much more dramatic (ex. salmon at 250 degrees reaching a 125 temp will raise another 7 or so degrees sitting on the counter for 5 minutes, but salmon cooked at 450 degrees to 125 will raise another 27 degrees after 5 minutes!! SO…..UNDERCOOK your fish at a LOW temperature and let it rest just like you do meat, and you’ll have moist, flaky, perfectly done fish!! You’re welcome. -Lula
Summer tends to make us want to eat lighter, and fish feels that way to me…so with a little “Deadliest Catch” in mind, I’d like to give you a few tips about purchasing your seafood:
- Stay away from purveyors who don’t display their seafood directly on ice – all seafood needs to STAY as cold as possible at all times. It’s the protein that spoils the fastest!
- If you’re buying something premade and packaged (like a stuffed flounder), there should be virtually no accumulated liquid in the package.
- Fish should smell like a cross between the ocean and a clean running creek. If it smells too fishy, something’s “fishy”.
- It’s best to not be lazy about your shrimp. By it shell on and clean it at home – the shell holds in moisture which keeps your shrimp plump and firm. Besides, the shells can be used for a broth or sauce that will GREATLY enhance your shrimp!
- If you’ve got a recipe you want to try but can’t find the particular seafood it’s asking for, ask your fishmonger. Virtually EVERY fish has one or two perfect substitutions – get what’s freshest!
Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering wishes for you the most fabulous summer ever – loaded with delicious fresh seafood! The picture above is of a GORGEOUS Steelhead Trout (this particular filet weighing in at about 4.5 pounds… 🙂 )
FISH, that is! A fun fact: Salmon get their “rose” color from eating pink crustaceons…as do FLAMINGOS!!!
Fish are predominantly “white meat” …but there are exceptions with the more active fish, like tuna, which produces more red myoglobin in their more muscular areas. In general, water is a “weightless” environment and fish are designed to survive using very quick, darting movements to escape prey, as opposed to say, the cow, who has to fight gravity and endure the onerous task of walking (or in the old days believe it or not, running – think of a buffalo stampede). So, the protein fibers are shorter and thinner in fish than in land animals. They break down much more easily when cooked – so take far less time.
Because of the weightless environment of water, fish don’t need the connective tissue (ligaments, cartilage, tendons – which produce collagen) for their muscles to be bound to each other and to the skeleton, and once again, yet another reason that they can be cooked very quickly.
In fact, PLEASE don’t cook your fish more than 10 minutes for every inch of thickness (a lovely 4-6 ounce of orange roughy or salmon filet will only take about 2-3 minutes per side, in fact, if you’re sauteeing) … you’ll just get tough flavorless fish. So…in short…a VERY smart meal for us working gals short on time but wanting big flavor. Any questions on how to prepare email me at Lori@lulasforlunch.com and…the question still remains…Red or White?!?
If you’re like many people this time of year, fish is “on the brain’ – which is a GOOD thing, because fish is a certified “brain food”!! Check out our special Lenten Menu below. For details visit www.lulasforlunch.com and click on Seasonal Selections. Happy Thinking!! – Lula
Lula’s Lenten Menu Special
Creamy Curried Cod
White & Wild Rice Pilaf
Field Greens w/Lula’s Green Goddess
Sauteed Sugar Snap Peas & Carrots
Citrus Pound Cake w/Grand Marnier Whipped Cream