If I were in Spain, this dish would be made with hake. But you know the chances of me finding hake in the Midwest are zero, zip. And yet, as always, I can’t go without enjoying the dish. Filetes de merluza al horno con patatas becomes oven baked tilapia over potatoes. It is a very tasty dish, and yet, easy and relatively quick to make, which makes it perfect for weeknight meals. The best part is, it is a one pot meal. I serve it simply with a salad on the side and dinner is complete.
With Ash Wednesday today, and a number of Fridays of Lent coming up, I’m always grateful for a few non-meat dishes that can be put together in minutes. Of course, you can always have Spanish Omelet for dinner on Fridays. We do! (for the recipe, click here). But Lent seems to be a good time to eat more fish —at least that’s my excuse. I wish I could also be posting recipes for pescadito frito, all sorts of small fish and different varieties of calamari, fried to crispiness and that eats like popcorn. Or of sepia a la plancha, grilled cuttlefish drizzled with majado. But I will stop dreaming right now. And if you find hake at your local fishmonger or fish store, by all means, use it on this dish.
Do you observe Lent? I’m always curious and interested about the observances of other religions or beliefs. In Spain, Lent has always been observed and celebrated, and Holy Week is a time of processions all over Spain. The country has become much more secular, but still every city and town holds its own Holy Week processions and even representations of Christ’s Passion. If you’d like to know a bit more about Lent and Holy Week in Spain, I wrote about it here (you can also find it in the IDIOSYNCRASIES section, under the FUNDAMENTALS tab in the navigation bar).
OVEN BAKED TILAPIA OVER POTATOES
Filetes de Tilapia al Horno con Patatas
4 tilapia filets
2 Tbs fresh squeezed lemon
2 large potatoes
2 medium onions
4 bay leaves
6 cloves garlic
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp pimentón de la Vera (or Spanish paprika)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbs parsley
In a small bowl, mix the lemon juice, 1/2 tsp salt and a pinch of pepper with 2 Tbs olive oil. Arrange the tilapia filets in a single layer in a deep dish and pour the lemon mix over them. Place in the fridge and marinate for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Drizzle and spread 1 Tbs olive oil on the base of an oven proof casserole. Peel the potatoes and slice them into 1/4-inch thick slices. Place them in a single layer in the casserole, sprinkle them with salt and pepper to taste and drizzle with some more olive oil. Bake for 12 minutes.
Slice the onions into very thin slices, about 1/8-inch thick, and scatter the rings over the potatoes. Sprinkle with the pimentón de la Vera and scatter the bay leaves. Arrange the tilapia filets over the vegetables and pour the pan juices over the filets. Place in the oven and bake for about 10 to 14 minutes, depending on the size of the tilapia filets (be very careful not to overcook the fish!)
Thinly slice the garlic cloves. In a small skillet, heat the remaining olive oil, about 1/4 cup, over medium heat. Add the red pepper flakes and the thinly sliced garlic and sauté until translucent, 3-4 minutes, making sure the garlic doesn’t brown or burn.
Remove the casserole from the oven and pour the garlic oil over the filets. To serve, sprinkle with some finely minced flat leaf parsley.