Tilapia is a very low fat, low calorie fish. When fresh it is truly delightful and even fresh frozen can be good.
We have been raising tilapia for years now – and lately had too many in one hatchery even though they were rather small. They need room to grow so we decided to cull about a dozen and eat them – in a dish like Paella the small size of the fish is not as relevant as when served alone.
Here are the various steps – all managed and prepared by our farm manager Max whose Mexican heritage from Jalisco made a truly delicious dish for our family and his. We were grateful for that since this is labor heavy – lots of skinning, boning and chopping involved!
- Tilapia – boned and skinned – about 2 lbs
- Chicken thighs ( 1) and breasts ( 1) skinned and boned and cut into bite sized pieces
- Shrimp ( fresh) 1 lb peeled and deveined
- 1 leek sliced
- Fresh hulled green peas – 1 cup
- Elephant Garlic 2 cloves sliced thin
- Tomatoes ( 1 lb) skinned by roasting briefly over a flame and skinning, and chopped
- Pepper ( 1 green and 1 red ) chopped
- Rice – 1 cup
- 2 cups of chicken stock ( we had just made chicken soup so we added that strained)
- 1 bay leaf
- Saffron 1/2 tsp
- Olive oil 8 tbsp
- Soak the rice in cold water for half hour then drain
- Chop all ingredients, clean. skin, bone and prepare the Tilapia and place the oil in a large pan
- Heat the oil and break one bay leaf into two and add to the oil
- Saute a few strands of saffron with 1/3 of the garlic and all chicken first until browned slightly
- Add the tilapia and saute with the chicken adding another 1/3 of the garlic.
- Add the shrimp and rest of the garlic and saute on medium heat for a few minutes. DO NOT OVERCOOK
- Take all of it out of the pan and put into a plate on the side.
- Now add to the original pan the soaked rice (drained). Saute for about 5 minutes.
- Add the leeks, and then two cups of chicken stock per cup of rice
- Then add the peppers and tomatoes
- Add a half teaspoon of saffron
- Simmer for 20 minutes until the rice is cooked – remove the two halves of bay leaf
- Add the chicken, fish, shrimp mixture on top -very gently place some of the rice on top of some of the mixture but do not mix -season with salt and pepper
- Add the peas at the last minute and let them cook from the heat of the combination for 10 minutes .
- Cover the pan with cheesecloth to absorb the condensation from the pan cover over the pan, then cover that with the lid.
- Turn off the heat – it will keep warm for about 30 minutes – but try to serve pretty quickly after it is done.
- We squeezed a few drops of meyer lemon over each serving and served it with a side of sliced ripe avocado.