Thursday, February 16, 2012

A Tale of Two Tilefish

Tilefish have a firm texture, white meat and mild flavor

One of the things I enjoy about this blog is trying out things I've never tasted before.  I have never had tilefish and wasn't really interested in trying it.  I pictured a fish that looked like linoleum!  But I was at the fish monger and saw that it's a sturdy fish.  The filets were cut thicker than other fish like flounder or sole.  I planned to steam the filet and I wanted something that would stand up to the steaming process and would absorb and not compete with the flavors I'd be cooking with. 

Perfect for steaming

The first night I experimented with tilefish I used some strong flavors including Sriracha and Teryaki sauce.  I enveloped the filet in fresh basil, lemons and tomatoes.  It was very tasty but I wanted to try it with subtler flavors as well.  So the next night I tried it again, but this time using only basil, lemon, tomato and a hint of cilantro. 

Version 1: Bold & Spicy

A little more background on tilefish: they come primarily from the Gulf of Mexico and the southeastern seaboard.  They don't swim in schools, but cluster near the heads or sides of submarine canyons.  So, when you buy tilefish in NYC they're not from Montauk!  The filets I had were very fresh though.  Consider the branzino I'm so crazy about come from the Mediterranean.  And tilefish is a good deal - about $14 per pound at Citarella.

I steamed my vegetables right along with the fish
My steamer has two separate levels

Line a casserole dish with fresh basil as the base

Season with salt and pepper and ground mustard

That's a spicy sauce!

I liked the tilefish both ways, but if I had to choose I'd go with the simpler preparation.  I'm listing all of the ingredients below and you can decide which version works best for you. 

Version 2 coming out of the steamer

Version 2: simple and elegant


1/2 lb tilefish filet per person
1 cup fresh basil
A few sprigs cilantro (optional)
1 lemon, sliced horizontally
1 tspn ground mustard
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
Salt & pepper to taste

For spicy add the following:

2 tbspns Sriracha Sauce
1/2 cup Teriaki Sauce with Sesame Seeds
1 tspn red pepper flakes


Line casserole dish with fresh basil and cilantro (if using)
Place filet on bed of basil
Add other ingredients coating filet well
Line tomatoes and lemon slices on top of filet
Place casserole dish in the steamer
Cook for 5 minutes
Remove from steamer and serve immediately


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