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Test Kitchen: Turn to pan frying for crispy tilapia

By Jessica Rodrigo
April 16, 2014 at 4:04 p.m.
Updated April 15, 2014 at 11:16 p.m.

Pan-seared tilapia and creamed leeks is a simple but classy dish for Friday night supper. It doesn't take long to prepare and won't leave you feeling like you ate too much.

Pan-fried tilapia

• 2 tilapia fillets

• 1 cup panko crumbs/bread crumbs

• Salt and pepper to taste

• 1 tsp. olive oil

• 2 tbsp. butter, divided

• 1 egg

• 1 lemon, cut in half for juicing

• 1 tbsp. capers

In a shallow bowl, combine bread crumbs with salt and pepper. In another shallow bowl, lightly whisk an egg until it is combined. Dredge the fillets in the egg and then in the breadcrumbs. In a pan over medium heat, add the oil and half the butter. Allow the butter to melt completely and then add the filets. Let them cook for about 3-4 minutes on each side or until the fish is golden brown. Carefully flip the tilapia and let the other side cook for about the same amount of time or until it is cooked through. When the tilapia is cooked, remove it from the pan and set aside. Add the remaining butter, capers and all the juice from the lemon. Pour the lemon and caper butter over the fillets and serve hot.

Creamed leeks

• 2-3 cups leeks, cut into 1/2 inch strips

• 1 tbsp. butter

• 1 tbsp. olive oil

• 1 clove of garlic, sliced thin

• Salt and pepper to taste

• 1-2 tbsp. sour cream

In a pan over medium heat, add olive oil, butter and leeks. Stir occasionally to coat and soften the leeks. Once they are soft, add the garlic and season with salt and pepper. Add the sour cream and combine. If you want the leeks creamier, then add more sour cream. Serve hot.

Can't make it? go get it.

Olive Garden - Parmesan crusted tilapia

Address: 7609 N.E. Zac Lentz Parkway, Victoria

When: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday.

Phone: 361-578-6996

What was I thinking when gave up deep-fried foods for Lent?

No doughnuts. No corn dogs. No fish and chips.

Nevertheless, there are other options of cooking that can satisfy the palate as well as that crispy, crunchy texture we love so much that is the product of frying.

Like pan frying, for instance - there has to be a loophole, right?

This recipe can be done with any kind of breading. I just happened to have panko crumbs in my pantry. If you have old bread, toast it then pulse it a few times in a blender/food processor and season with salt and pepper. You can also add a few herbs and some cheese if that suits you.

The leeks are a fancy side that can offer smooth contrast to the lemons and capers while the sour cream brings the two together nicely.

Have a recipe or a dish you want me to try? Email me at or tweet me via @EatsEatsEats. I'm always hungry.



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