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TILAPIA SWIMS TO AMERICA'S TOP 10 LIST
Facts and an easy to prepare recipe on this popular fish

Orlando, Fla. (September 29, 2005)Tilapia, a fish that is relatively new to American consumers, has ridden the wave of popularity to become one of America’s top ten seafoods.  This hardy fish that has a sweet, mild flavor and a firm, flaky texture is now the sixth most popular seafood consumed in the United States after such varieties as shrimp, salmon and canned tuna (according to the American Tilapia Association).

Introduced to the American mainland in 1959, tilapia actually boasts a venerable history:
• Sometimes referred to as sunshine snapper, cherry snapper, Nile Snapper and St. Peter’s fish (since it is thought to be the fish St. Peter caught in the Sea of Galilee), tilapia has been farmed in Israel for about 2,500 years.
• Tilapia is a freshwater fish that can be cultured in the southern regions of the United States and other tropical areas such as Hawaii.
• Fresh tilapia also is imported from Columbia and Costa Rica.
• Tilapia are sold live, fresh and frozen – whole and fillets.
• The fine-tasting meat typically is white, although the meat of red skinned tilapia may have a reddish tint.
• A most agreeable fish, tilapia is great on the grill, broiled, baked, pan-fried or stir fried.
• On its own, a 3.5 ounce serving of tilapia has only 98 calories and provides 18.5 g of protein, with no saturated fat, no cholesterol and 52 mg of sodium.
• In addition to its versatility, pleasant flavor and low calorie count, the retail price of tilapia remains reasonable in comparison to other seafood, thanks to the efficiencies of modern aquaculture.
• Tilapia also is known for taking on many of the flavors of the ingredients it’s cooked with.  For example, cooking tilapia in a stir-fry with soy sauce and veggies gives it an Asian flair.  Many cooks even combine it with “fruity” flavors such as cherries or lemons.

It’s no wonder that tilapia has become one of the most popular fish in America!

Fish in a Bag
(Courtesy of Red Lobster)


Ingredients (makes 4 servings):

8 sheets parchment paper
4 servings Vegetable Mix (see recipe below)
12 lemon wheels, each cut into 1/4" pieces
4 thyme springs, approximately 3-5" each
1 tsp. Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Blackened Redfish Magic™
4 8-10 oz. pieces of tilapia, skin off

Vegetable Mix Recipe:
1 medium red onion, cut into half slices
1 medium red pepper, cut into 1-1 1/2" x 1/4" strips
2 stalks of celery, sliced into 1/4" pieces
8 oz. carrot slims
2 tbsp. of McCormick’s “It’s a Dilly” Seasoning Blend™
2 baking potatoes
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. black pepper
2 tbsp. fresh thyme, chopped
1 tsp. Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Vegetable Magic

Preparation

Vegetables:
1. Wash all vegetables.
2. Peel the onion and cut in half.  Slice into 1/4" half moons.
3. Cut the red pepper into 1-2” long by 1/4" wide strips.
4. Trim the celery and cut into 1/4" pieces.
5. Cut the potatoes in half in the middle and then into 1/6ths. Steam potatoes for approximately 8 to 10 minutes or until tender. Cool in ice water to stop cooking.  Once cooled, drain well.
6. Place all vegetables into a mixing bowl.
7. Add the following to the vegetables:  It’s a Dilly seasoning blend, kosher salt, ground pepper, chopped thyme and Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Vegetable Magic.
8. Mix well.

Fish:
1. Make 3 to 4 1/4" slices approximately 1/2" apart.  This will ensure even cooking.
2. Brush the tilapia with liquid butter and then season with kosher salt.
3. Lightly sprinkle Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Blackened Redfish Magic on the fish.


Layering the Bag:
1. Brush each piece of parchment paper lightly with liquid butter (one side only).
2. Place 1/4 of the vegetable mixture in the center of one sheet of parchment paper.
3. Place one piece of tilapia on top of the vegetable mixture.
4. Place three lemon wheels across the fish.
5. Place one large thyme sprig on top.
6. Repeat with the other three pieces of fish.

Sealing the Bag:
1. Place one sheet of the buttered parchment paper on top of the tilapia.
2. Crimp the two sheets of parchment paper like a piecrust until the bottom and the top are completely sealed.
3. Repeat with the other three pieces of fish.

Cooking:
1. Place the bags of tilapia onto a cookie sheet.
2. Cook in a 450-degree oven for approximately 12 to 15 minutes.
3. To check the temperature, insert a probe into the side of the bag until you have reached the middle of the fish. The temperature of the fish should be between 140-150 degrees.
4. Place the bag onto a plate.  Slice the parchment open right at the table to enjoy!

Wine Pairing Recommendation:
A Sauvignon Blanc is a nice accompaniment because it won’t overpower the light, subtle flavors of the fish, which is a delicate preparation.  Another good pairing would be a Chateau Ste Michelle Riesling.  This light, fruity wine complements the spice and citrus seasoning of the fish.

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