The Italians have two Cardinal rules. The rules that, when broken, have old Italian grandmothers rising from their graves to deliver a solid slap across your cheek and a cringe-inducing glare. Rule number one: you do not cheese your fish. Rule number two: you do NOT cheese your fish.
Well, I cheesed my fish. And it’s goooood.
This is what my husband, Steve, calls “our easiest adult meal.” It’s also one of my favorites. I can’t say it’s healthy, but you could do worse. And it’s seriously easy. I’m talking, under ten minutes easy.
Ingredients (for two generous portions):
3-4 tilapia filets (we get the individually frozen kind in bulk so we always have them)
½ cup shredded Parmesan (not grated!)
¼ cup butter, softened
3 Tbsps Mayo
1 Tbsp Lemon juice
¼ Tsp Basil
¼ Tsp Pepper
1/8 Tsp Onion powder
1/8 Tsp Celery Salt
¼ Tsp Paprika
¼ Tsp Garlic powder
1/8 to ¼ Tsp Cayenne pepper (to taste)
¼ cup Panko bread crumbs
You can use any breadcrumbs you like, but I personally feel that Panko has the best crunch. You can find it in the specialty Asian section.
First take out your filets and generously sprinkle both sides with Old Bay. Then, in a small bowl, soften your butter. How much or little you soften your butter really makes a difference. If it’s completely melted, you’ll have a harder time spreading the mixture on your fish later. If it’s two hard, you won’t be able to mix it completely. I put it in the microwave for about 45 seconds and it’s perfect. Add your Parmesan, followed by all the rest of the ingredients. Put in the breadcrumbs last so they don’t soak up all the butter and get soggy. Mix all the ingredients together very well.
Steve has perfected the cooking process on these, so I can tell you with certainty that these times are dead on (at least for our oven). Put your filets on a broiler and broil for 2 minutes. Flip quickly and carefully and broil for 1-½ minutes.
Now comes the fun part. The schmearing. Not smearing. Trust me—once you do it, you know it’s a schmear. If you’ve done it right, it’s thick enough that it won’t fall off the fish as you schmear it on top. You probably will have to use your fingers. This is ok. Don’t be afraid. You’ve already got zombie Italian grandmothers chasing after you with open palms, nothing worse can happen to you. Make sure you’ve completely covered the fish, and then pop it back in. Broil for 1-½ minutes and then start watching through the oven door. You can actually see it browning. Once it’s brown enough for you (which will be less than 30 seconds) pull it out and serve. I’m telling you, it’ll make you unbelievably glad you cheesed your fish.
(Click here for printable recipe)