You may already know this, but my significant other, Jérôme, is not a big fan of trying new things. When I made cherry BBQ sauce a few weeks ago in desperation because there were too many cherries and not enough “me” to eat them all, he timidly announced that he might just eat his hamburger without the sauce.
This attitude was clearly unacceptable, and while he was outside tending to the burgers, I discreetly slathered both hamburger buns with sweet, delicious, spicy sauce. He complain or put up a fight, and we both agreed that the burgers were spectacular. Mission accomplished. Needless to say that when I announced that I would be making tilapia burgers a few weeks ago, I knew I had another uphill battle ahead of me.
I’d been wanting to try something a little different with fish for a while now. I’m just not that big a fan of white fish I guess. My grandpa’s fried catfish? Yes please. Salmon in any form possible? Of course! But white fish tends to bore me when I make it at home. I’m never really sure what to do with it, and it always ends up sticking to the pan and becoming a mashed-up mess served with lemon cream sauce. Which, I admit, can make anything better, but it just doesn’t quite cut it when paired with mild-tasting fish filets.
I’ve been trying to remedy this aversion to fish. I’ve been eating my weight in salmon lately, as our local supermarket has had a few sales on whole fish. I made this crustless quiche with salmon and Romanesco brocolli, I made all kinds of quick, unilaterally cooked salmon dishes and even tried my hand at making the cover recipe from Bon Appétit, baked salmon with cherry tomatoes and couscous. I meant to make green salmon shawarma but transformed it instead into these chicken kebabs. I can’t even tell you the last time I ate white fish! Not even in a restaurant!
I decided that if I wanted to start eating more fish, I should start by buying more fish. So, a bag of frozen tilapia filets had been in my freezer for a little over two weeks when I stumbled upon this recipe for tilapia burgers. Yes! Fish mixed with other things! Herbs and spices and… cornmeal! And topped with ripe avocados and cherry tomatoes and mayonnaise and eaten on a baguette? Yes! This was the recipe I’d been looking for to help me out of my white fish funk.
Only, Jérôme doesn’t do well with out-of-the-ordinary recipes. Fish is to be eaten with a sauce made exclusively of cream, butter and pepper, just like his grandmother used to make. Fish is to be cooked in the oven or in a skillet but fish is most certainly not supposed to be subjected to a food processor, combined with all kinds of ingredients that are not butter, cream or pepper and formed into patties. And eaten on bread? Blasphemy!
Faced with his less than enthusiastic reaction to the day’s lunch menu, I did what I always do: made it anyway. And guess what? He loved these burgers! They were mild and yet flavorful, incredibly juicy and perfectly paired with all of their little add-ons and condiments. We decided that the fish was a bit too processed, and that texture-wise we would have prefered bigger chunks of fish. Taste-wise, however, these were just right.
Tilapia burgers with avocado and cherry tomatoes
Recipe adapted very slightly from How Sweet It Is
Ingredients (serves 2):
2 tilapia filets
3 T cornmeal
A few sprigs of fresh basil
A few sprigs of fresh cilantro
2 cloves of garlic
1 t dijon mustard
1 T smoked paprika
Salt and pepper
Whatever you want for a garnish: avocado slices, cherry tomatoes and mayonnaise was delicious! Coleslaw also went perfectly with these sandwiches. I just love the way the tangy sauces mixes with everything else on the plate (mostly the bread!) and gives it a little extra kick!
This recipe couldn’t be easier. Toss everything into a food processor. Pulse (but just a little, if you’re a texture person like I am) for a few seconds, stir to combine if need be. Form into patties, cook in a hot skillet with a bit of butter or olive oil for about 10 minutes, turning halfway through the cooking time.