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Fishing for Delicacies Way Up North

July 12, 2012 By:
Rivka Tal, Jewish Exponent Feature
Posted In 
On a recent trip to Tiberias, my daughter and I sampled the offerings of two "seaside" restaurants by the Sea of Galilee. As is customary, we ordered the ubiquitous Israeli fresh fish straight from the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) known here by so many names: St. Peter's fish, amnon and musht. It's known in the States as tilapia.

This gray-silver sweet water fish swims the Kinneret as well as local fish ponds. With its delicate white flesh, it's a singularly popular Israeli treat. Cooking amnon couldn't be simpler -- salt and pepper; a little coating or not; fried or on the grill; baked with sauce in the oven -- all these provide a healthy, satisfying meal.

Note one drawback: These fish have a lot of bones. You can buy frozen fillets and avoid the problem.

Baked Tilapia

4 Tbsps. olive oil (divided)
1/2 bunch parsley, finely chopped, divided
2 onions, sliced
5 garlic cloves, crushed
4 tilapia fillets
juice of 1 lemon
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2-3 Tbsps. Dijon mustard
1/2 can (15 oz.) whole tomatoes
2 Tbsps. tomato paste
1 jalapeno pepper, chopped (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°.

Arrange a layer of parsley and half the garlic and onions in a slightly greased baking pan. Place fillets skin-side down in pan and sprinkle with remaining onion and garlic.

Sprinkle with lemon juice, salt and pepper and spread with mustard.

Blend tomato cubes, tomato paste, remaining olive oil, optional jalapeno, 1 teaspoon water and a pinch of salt in a blender. Pour over fish.

Sprinkle with remaining parsley. Bake uncovered for 20 to 30 minutes or until fish flakes done.

Serves 4.

Sauteed Tilapia With Lemon-Pepper Sauce

1 and 1/2 cups reduced-sodium vegetable broth
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tsps. canola oil
4 tilapia fillets
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup flour
7 tsps. butter (divided)
lemon wedges

Combine broth, lemon juice and canola oil. Set aside.

Sprinkle tilapia fillets with salt and pepper. Place the flour in a shallow dish. Dredge fillets in flour; shake off excess.

Melt 2 teaspoons butter in a large nonstick skillet over low heat.

Increase heat to medium-high. Add fillets to pan. Saute 3 minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily with a fork.

Remove fish from pan. Add broth mixture to pan, scraping to loosen browned bits. Bring to a boil; cook until reduced to 1 cup (about 3 minutes). Remove from heat.

Stir in four teaspoons of butter with a whisk. Serve sauce over fillets and garnish with lemon wedges. Serve immediately.

Serves 4.

Tilapia Fillet in Pesto Sauce

6 skinless tilapia fillets
lemon juice
1 cup pesto sauce
1/4 tsp. sour salt (citric acid)
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. sea salt

Preheat oven to 350°. Meanwhile, soak fish in lemon juice.

Place fillets in baking pan. Add remaining ingredients to pesto sauce; spread over fish.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until fish tests done.

Serves 6.

Rivka Tal is a former Minnesotan who has lived in Jerusalem for the past 45 years. She is a food writer and translator. Email her at:

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