Ever since the sushi-making party two weeks ago, I've been fascinated with the similarities and differences in languages. It's so boring to be called "sweetheart" or "my love" or "dear" or some other cliché tender little thing, don't you think? Years and years of that would drive me up the wall. I'd much rather be called "ma petite chou" (my little cabbage, French) or "minha batatinha" (my little potato, Portuguese). Of course, I'd draw the line at "ma petite puce" (my little flea, Fr. - no, really). I knew a Persian girl once whose name was Mozhgan - translated as "eyelash." I'm guessing her parents thought it was nice at some point in time (why? oh, why?!) And as I make fun of my mom for calling kids "kurochka," which means little chicken in Russian, I remember that my own husband sometimes calls me "ribka" - a FISH (remind me to have a wee bit of a chat with him about that). Because fish are so -- erm -- cute... and sweet? No, just no. Except that Nemo kid, he was ok, even if the little guy was a bit too excitable.
Because I loved the moment in Shrek where a cutesy little bird explodes and Fiona just shrugs and makes omelette out of the eggs, the "fish" endearment made me think of my darling little tilapia fillets just sitting in my freezer and awaiting their turn on the dinner menu. And if you are already going to call fish "darling," and then promptly eat it, you may as well make the remainder of its existence a little sweeter and pair it with sweet peppers. Ha! Oh, the cruel irony. I'm sure the tilapia hadn't appreciated it, but we certainly did, in more ways than one.
So tell me, and don't be shy -- what are the strangest endearments that you've ever been called?
Tilapia With Sweet Peppers
(Williams & Sonoma recipe)
4 tilapia fillets (boneless)
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp paprika
3 red, orange or yellow bell peppers, seeded and sliced
1 large garlic clove, sliced
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 cup chicken or vegetable stock
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp sherry vinegar or balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
In a deep fry pan over medium heat, warm 1 tbsp of olive oil. Add the bell peppers and cook, stirring frequently, for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and oregano. Sautee for about a minute, until the garlic is fragrant. Add stock, a pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper. Cover and cook until peppers are tender and most of the liquid has evaporated, about 20 minutes.
When the peppers are nearly done, turn to the fish. Season both sides of the tilapia fillets with salt, a dash of pepper and paprika. Lightly dredge each fillet in the flour, shaking off the extra. Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a fry pan over medium heat. Add the fillets to the pan and cook until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side.
At this point, the peppers should be done. Turn off the heat, stir in the vinegar and taste to adjust seasoning. Transfer the fillets to individual plates and spoon the peppers over each fillet. As always, a nice arugula salad and a glass of chilled white wine (mmmm... a crisp Sauvignon Blanc) just hits the spot with this dish. I've made this for weeknight meals (it only takes 1/2 hr to make, it's easy, tasty and actually good for you), and I've served it for lunch/brunch to guests, all with equally good results.