One of the great things about living in this part of the world is our easy access to quality, fresh fish. From shellfish to lake trout and everything in between it is all available in Albania and it is always fresh and surprisingly affordable. Along the coast many restaurant menus only include fish and seafood and it is common practice for a waiter to present your table with a platter of still wiggling fish plucked from the Adriatic Sea and allow each diner to select the one they want to eat. Meals filled with fish and seafood also tend to be the most common dinner presentations at formal dinners and as such, I’ve found myself trying new types of fish on a regular basis. My favorite meal by far has been a dinner hosted by our Turkish friends where every item on the table came from the sea. (Who knew there were so many ways to cook octopus?).
I’ve always loved fish so I thoroughly enjoy these meals. Prior to arriving in Albania, however, Glenn would avoid anything marine related at all costs. Much to his horror his first few formal dinners in Albania revolved around fish and seafood and he would come home with stories of how he actually ate a bite or two of the meals and survived. While he won’t order it from a menu in a restaurant, Glenn has gotten better about eating fish and no longer cringes when it appears in front of him. Of course, those closest to us know of his lack of enthusiasm for fish and avoid serving it but when it is presented to him, he does eat it. And, on more than one occasion, he has even proclaimed that he liked what he ate.
We’re trying to eat healthier in the Brown household and to that end, and at Glenn’s request, we are now incorporating fish into our weekly menus. Cooking fish at home isn’t always an easy proposition. Most fish is sold whole and even after my taking a class on how to de-bone a fish, I struggle with getting it right. I’ve also learned that in order for Glenn to enjoy fish it can’t taste “fishy” and he likes it to be served with a sauce which in many cases, negates the healthy aspects of the fish.
Cooking fish is also a relatively new experience for me and I find myself slightly outside of my comfort zone. So I’m starting with the basics and working my way up. I have a vision of being able to cook a whole octopus before we leave Albania (which when cooked correctly, is absolutely delicious). In the meantime I’m starting with a mild tasting and boneless tilapia. Very simple but when cooked correctly, very tasty. The olive oil adds a bit of healthy fat and when combined with the lemon juice makes for a flavorful sauce. The best part? When I placed dinner on the table even Sidney proclaimed that “Sidney likes fish”.
LEMON AND DILL TILAPIA FILETS
2-4 ounce tilapia filets (or one filet per person)
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons finely minced dill
1 whole lemon, seeded and thinly sliced
1/4 Teaspoon paprika
Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Place a large piece of foil on a rimmed baking sheet. Arrange the tilapia filets in the center of the pan.
- Drizzle the olive oil on top of the fish. Sprinkle the filets with the dill and arrange the lemon slices on top.
- Season with the salt, pepper, and paprika.
- Wrap the foil into packets being sure to seal the edges so none of the oil escapes.
- Bake in the oven for 20 minutes until the fish is flaky but not dry.