Saturday, December 11, 2010

December 11th - Parsnip Encrusted Tilapia

     I've had this recipe going on in my head for a few days, though it wasn't until last night that I found the time to make it. The way this dish looks reminds me of a classic meal, and cooking something like that was strange to me.
     I rarely cook whole fillets of steak, fish, or anything really. Even when I buy a delicious Delmonico steak, my first thought is usually slicing it thin and making cheese-steak out of it.
     Whole fillet  dishes have great importance in the culinary world, however. and despite how I think they can be a bit dull at times, doesn't mean I shouldn't learn to cook them and -make- them interesting and delicious.
     The fish when breaded with my parsnip blend tastes almost like its been drizzled with coconut milk. The flavor is very mellow and complimented to its very extremes by a squeeze of lemon. It's only weakness is the pancake factor.

     What is the pancake factor? Have you ever noticed when you eat pancakes that they just soak up the syrup? and somehow as they eat up that syrup, and the flavor doesn't necessarily stay syrupy. And so you have to add more...and more...Well, this fish will do that with lemon.
     Which is why instead of the traditional lemon squeeze over top, I suggest a dipping cup of lemon juice to dip each bite right before eating for maximum flavor.

     This dish makes a large meal for 2. But fish has never filled me up for very long so I'm reluctant to tell you to call over a third guest without changing the proportions.

Here's what you'll need!!

3 Fillets Tilapia ( or 1 lb, depending on the size of the fish. )
4 tbsp Parsnip powder (You will likely need to make this yourself. instructions will follow shortly)
2 tbsp Tapioca flour
1 Dash paprika
1 Dash salt
2 egg whites
1/2 cup baby carrots (halved)
1 stalk of baby Bok Choy
3-5 green onions
Lemon juice to taste

     Before we get cooking, I'll instruct you on making Parsnip Powder.
     Take one large parsnip and peel it, wasting as little of the actual parsnip as possible while getting rid of its peel.
     Now begin to cut thin strips from it as if you were still peeling it. Don't break down the entire thing, the core of the parsnip has a different flavor than its mantle. A bit of the core wont hurt but try for mostly the softer middle ground between crust and center.
     Once you've got that done, spread the strips out in the dehydrator and turn it on. Parsnips are naturally kind of dry so it likely wont take you more than 6 hours to dry it completely.
     Once it cracks instead of bends, you're ready to grind it into powder. Use a spice grinder or if you want a course crust, just use a hammer or blunt object to smash the parsnip into consistency.
     Now that we've got all of our ingredients...

Lets get cooking!

Breading the fish-
     First beat your egg whites with a whisk or fork until they begin to froth slightly.
     On a plate, mix together your parsnip powder, tapioca flour, paprika, and salt.
     Dip your fish into the egg whites and then into the parsnip breading you've just made. coat both sides.
     Turn two burners to high. on one of them place a pot full of water for boiling Bok Choy. On the second place a pan and fill it a 4th inch with the oil of your choice. I used sunflower.

     Cooking the Bok Choy-
     Boil the Bok Choy for several minutes, only until its color becomes slightly more vibrant. then quickly strain it and dump it into a bowl of very cold water to stop the cooking process from going any further.

     Cooking the fish-
     Seer the fish to a dark amber color on both sides, half at a time. Once the fish has achieved that color it will still be somewhat uncooked on the inside. Place it in a toaster oven at 350 degrees for 3 to 5 minutes. when a fork glides easily through it, your fish is finished.

     Putting it all together-
     Gather up all your vegetables and give them a quick stir fry on your highest heat in a fresh pan drizzles with just a bit of sesame oil and lemon juice. Do not exceed 60 seconds with this step. As a matter of fact 40 should be fine. You do not want to lose the fresh crunch of your vegetables.
     Pour the vegetables over the fish and serve. Don't forget your lemon juice to dip!

     As an after thought, you may want to throw in a 4th to 1/2 cup of sliced water chestnuts. But don't forget to stir-fry those as well.

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