How to Cook Fresh Tilapia

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Fresh tilapia needs to be cooked in a very particular way for the most delicious possible results. Cook fresh tilapia with help from a hospitality professor at University of New Haven in this free video clip.

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Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Chef Jeff Trombeta from the University of New Haven in Connecticut, and today we're going to show you how to make fresh tilapia. Wha we mean by fresh tilapia? It's cooking it in the simplest and the purest form. Cooks quick, cooks delicately and, and shows the true freshness of the fish. So, let's get started. So, we're going to shallow poach. What do we mean by shallow poach? It means that the fish is not is not totally submerged in the liquid. We're going to lightly butter the bottom, we're going to put a little bit of shallot down there. A lot of this is classical cooking methods, is what I'm showing you. And we're going to take our fish, you can see what I mean? That's the skin side, the skin came off of there and that's the, the bone side where the, the meat of the fish was touching the bone. You should always showcase that. We're going to fold our fish a little bit so it looks good. A little paupiettes if you will, they call them. We're going to roll our skin side, we're going to showcase the, the whiter side of the fish and these three will be a nice portion. I think I'm going to put it on a bed of spinach, that gives it a, that's an edible garnish called Florentine style, in the style of Florence; very nice, very elegant. So, we need to season this piece of fish; lightly I'm going to go with white pepper, this is going to be, we're going to make a sauce, a vin blanc sauce, a white wine sauce. It's going to have a little cream. So, I'm going to show you a trick that allows for proper cooking from the top as well as from the bottom, and you cover it with buttered paper, usually buttered parchment paper. But, the butter wrapper, this is heat proof also and the butter was on the inside of this wrapper, so that's going to protect it nicely also. What's, what's a little chive, that ain't going to hurt or anything. We'll sneak this in there. This is vin blanc part. This is the poaching liquid. This is white whine. So, we have the white wine or the Riesling and this is a fish fumet, that's fish stock. You don't need a lot, because the fish is going to excrete a lot of moisture. Let's cover it with the buttered paper and another led, keep it tight 'cause we're going to be steaming this. It's steaming, it's a pretty tight lid, you can see I have this inverted aluminum pan in the butter wrapper and I could see steam leaking out from the edges. I have this pan on the flame, that's for my spinach. It's only about 20 percent yield in spinach. What does that mean? By weight, if I have eight ounce of spinach, which I don't even have that much; let's say four or five ounces of spinach by weight, if I cook that down, 20 percent of that is 20 percent of five is one ounce. And that will be a nice garnish to go underneath or the fish. We can give it just a hint our, of garlic; very subtle. This is a delicate dish, remember, we're trying to show you how to cook fresh fish. We have some nice fresh tilapia poaching and so it will be its natural state. So, let that cook down and let's take a peak of our fish. So, we're going to pick up our paper and not quite ready. I could still see some raw, rawness. Just lightly wilted spinach, we want to keep it warm for now. We can put the heat on, now, I turn the heat off, we can put the heat on that again just to warm it up if need be. That's why it's always good to par cook. You could see the spinach is not totally wilted. Let's pick up our fish again. Okay, now, we're in good shape, so let's take this and since we're going in the oven, we will allow for a little bit of carry over cooking Carry over cooking, meaning that the fish will continue to cook, the tilapia will continue to cook and I'm going to turn this up now, while it is in the oven. So, now we take our fish, this is just kind of a, a mild, a moderately low oven, or actually very low. Now, that's our poaching liquor. That is full flavored. New fish stock; fish stock that I added in the beginning, white wine, shallot, little bit of butter. A good chef tastes their sauce as they begin to make it. That is sweet, nice, perfect. We want a very concentrated liquid there, which we have because that's going to flavor this cream. I intentionally poured twice as much cream as I want for the sauce, because we, will reduce the cream by half. And cream you could boil down, so it does have a sauce consistency. Many people don't know that. Okay, my spinach is going to go center of the plate, swirl my sauce because it's coming down more on the edge. It doesn't have the body that I want now, and always make a little more sauce. It doesn't have to be, you can have a little bit leftover. You don't want to be short on sauce. Yes, I'm sorry, it is a little bit fattening with the cream reducing. Let's say the cream is 36 percent butter fat content and I reduce it by half. That means in its concentrated form, I have 72 percent butter fat, fat content. Anyway, that's about ready. Any residual juice that came out, pour that in your sauce, that's liquid gold. Take your fish; I like doing this cooking methods because that's, this is classical. This fish is cooked perfectly. Okay. We're going to freshen it up with chives, that also helps thicken it. Alright. Now, this fish doesn't look as good as a breaded fish. That is fantastic. It really is. You have to trust me, I'm not just saying that because I made it. That's it, don't over-sauce. Shake that around a little bit so that sauce gets around. And it needs a little bit of color. This is just a little bit of red pepper puree, certainly doesn't hurt or anything. I'm going to fill in a little hole here that I see, I don't like that little hole. Here we go. And there you have fresh poached tilapia. And let's taste it. So, again, it's cooked nicely, flakes nicely, nice and white. The sauce definitely accents it, but it's fish or tilapia to its truest form. I'm Chef Jeff Trombeta from The University of New Haven in Connecticut.


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