Mom's Southern Living cookbooks... Grandma has even more!
Since I'm such a good shopper (Mom taught me well...) I found this little gem at Marshall's for $10. Yup, you read that right. Ten. Dollars. I am obsessed with it. It even comes with a DVD with how-to videos, menu plans and shopping lists. Genius! To be honest, I haven't used it yet. I've been too busy obsessing over the recipes.
My pride and joy! Don't the pictures on the cover make you want to dive into it head first?
It's organized perfectly; everything is so easy to find and all of the recipes look incredible. This is like the Southern Cook's bible. There are recipes for all the classic southern meals, sides, desserts, drinks....everything! I think it is the updated version of the big brown one my mom uses. I know this is a cookbook I'll use for years and years until the pages are all stuck together because I got food on them while cooking. Oh well, that's how you know a recipe is good. Remember how beat up my Banana Nut Bread recipe was?!
Anyways, Southern Living has become my go-to when it comes to finding good recipes. To me, they're a source I can trust. I know that the recipes are tried and tested because Southern Living wouldn't tag their name on to just any recipe.
I've gotten really sick of chicken lately, so I went to the store and got some tilapia without a recipe in mind. I just needed something different! I'm not one of those people who can eat the same thing over and over again. I don't even order the same thing at Starbucks everytime I go. I need some variety!
So when I got home the first place I looked for a recipe was Southern Living, of course. This recipe popped up first when I searched "tilapia" and it was highly rated. Plus, I had all the ingredients I needed so it was a no-brainer, but y'all know me... I had to change it a little bit :) The original uses cornmeal to coat it, but I love the texture of panko so I decided to use that instead, but use what you like! You could use regular breadcrumbs too, I'm sure.
Cajun Pan-Fried Tilapia (My Version)
3 tilapia fillets
3/4 c. panko bread crumbs
3 tbsp. flour
1 1/2 tsp. creole seasoning (creole, cajun...whatever)
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tbsp. milk
1 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. olive oil
Sprinkle each tilapia fillet with a little creole seasoning on both sides. Do this lightly because there's definitely some heat in that seasoning and you'll be putting creole seasoning in the breadcrumbs too. If you don't have creole seasoning I'm sure you could make your own version. I would add some paprika, cayenne, salt and pepper, of course, garlic powder, onion powder. Whatever you want! Just season it however.
Next beat your egg in a shallow dish until the yolk is broken up and the whole mixture is the same color. Add 1 tbsp. of milk and stir that to combine.
Now it's time to mix your dry mixture. Dump the panko bread crumbs onto a plate or shallow dish. Add in 1 tsp. of creole seasoning and the garlic powder. Mix that with your fingers so it's all evenly distributed. Have y'all tried panko breadcrumbs before? Oh man, they're good. They're so crunchy and the best part is they stay crunchy. That's my biggest complaint about regular breadcrumbs is that they get so soggy sometimes. Give panko a try!
See those little specks of flavor? :)
Get out a large skillet and set it over medium heat. Add 1 tbsp. of butter and 2 tbsp. of olive oil.
I don't know how my oil poured out in that shape... It looks like a sideways tooth!
While that's heating, let's coat the fish. Place one fillet in the egg mixture and flip it over so both sides are coated in it. Then set it in the panko and coat both sides. You may have to press the breadcrumbs onto the fish. Mine didn't stick super well the first time, which is why I made up the egg mixture in the first place, but it doesn't have to be 100% coated. You just want it mostly covered so you get the crunch!
Here's my little assembly line.
See? It's not all covered, but that's okay.
Your oil should be ready now. Swirl it all around so it covers the bottom of the pan.
Set two of the fillets in the pan and you should hear the oil start to crackle! You want that sizzle sound because that means it's cookin' away! I did two fillets and then waited to do the third one because I didn't want to crowd the pan.
Look at them cookin' away!
Let them cook for about 3-4 minutes, then give'em a flip. If they break, don't sweat it! It's just food, y'all. It's meant to be messy. You want them to be pretty golden and crispy when you flip them.
Let them cook another 3-4 minutes. You want the fish to look white on the inside, not raw at all (obviously). Once they're fully cooked take them out of the pan and cook the remaining fillet the same way. I had to add a little more oil and butter because my first fillets soaked it all up!
I served the fish with some brown rice (it's a little healthier than white....and yes I see the irony since I served fried fish. It happens, okay?) and some corn. For the brown rice, I made it according to the package and added some butter and garlic salt until it tasted right. I thought it was pretty good!
I hope y'all try this recipe. It's seriously good and pretty easy. Let me know what you think if you try it :)