Citrus Tilapia with Spicy Honeyed Pecans

I participate in a cooking club at Joy of Kosher, where each week members make one recipe from a selection given them, then post their comments under the original recipe.   Sometimes a recipe turns out so outstanding that I simple must share with you, Dear Reader. 

When I first checked out this restaurant-quality recipe, originally calling for salmon, I was a little apprehensive about using such a spicy marinade/sauce with tilapia, theHubby's favorite fish ready and waiting in my fridge.  But theHubby was in the midst of a nasty cold, and I figured  a little heat coupled with orange juice would be good for him.

So to avoid overpowering the much more milder tilapia, I cut back on the spices a tad (and by "tad" I mean "cutting back tablespoons to teaspoons ... or less").  As a result, while the bright flavors from the OJ and coriander are in front, there is a bare note of heat in the background while the taste of tilapia still shines through.  In other words, perfection!

After soaking the pecans in their own marinade, be sure to drain them as much as possible. Honey-soy-laced drips might burn and smoke before the pecans are done.

I think there was something like 2 cups o'juice in there.

Oh, and don't eyeball the amount of juice you pour into the bag.   Otherwise you'll pour in too much and it'll take so long for the marinade to reduce that you will give up and serve the fish with a very thin and runny sauce.  Very tasty, but thin and runny.  Not that I did that, of course.

Citrus Tilapia with Spicy Honeyed Pecans
Adapted from Joy of Kosher
Yield: 4 servings

1/4 tsp. chipotle chili powder
1 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper
1 cup lightly packed fresh cilantro stems and leaves, coarsely chopped
1 cup orange juice
4 tilapia fillets
1/2 Tbl. soy sauce
2 Tbl. honey
1/8 tsp. Cayenne (red) pepper
1/2 cup pecan halves
olive oil for greasing

Combine chili powder, coriander, black pepper, cilantro and orange juice in a 1 gallon-sized food-grade plastic bag.  Seal, then turn over a few times to mix marinade.  Open bag and add tilapia fillets.  Expel as much air as possible, then reseal and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.

While fillets are marinading, preheat oven to 350F.  Place a small wire cooling rack over a small baking sheet; set aside.

Combine soy sauce, honey, cayenne pepper and pecans in a 1-quart saucepan over medium heat.  Bring to a boil (which will happen quickly), stirring occasionally.  Reduce heat slightly and simmer 4 minutes; remove from heat and carefully drain off  as much liquid as possible.

Place pecans in a single layer on prepared wire rack.  Bake for about 10 minutes until lightly toasted (check after 8 minutes to prevent burning).   

Remove from oven and place pecans, still on rack, on a heat-safe surface.   Let cool to the touch (5-10 minutes). Coarsely chop pecans and set aside.

Increase setting on oven to broil.  Lightly grease rimmed baking sheet with the olive oil and set aside.

Unseal bag containing tilapia; carefully pour marinade, avoiding transferring large pieces of cilantro, into a 1-quart saucepan. Bring marinade to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat and simmer uncovered until reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Set aside.

No, you aren't seeing things.  I purchased an extra fillet.

Remove the 4 fillets from bag, along with any small bits of cilantro clinging to the fish (discard bag and remaining cilantro). Place in a single layer on prepared baking sheet, folding very thin sides under for more even cooking.  Place baking sheet in oven on middle rack.

I think the 2nd fillet from the left is laughing at me.

Broil tilapia 7-10 minutes or until tilapia starts to brown and is cooked through.  If necessary, move baking pan to top oven rack and broil for an additional minute.

Spicy the whale?  (local ice cream chain joke ... never mind)

Divide fillets among 4 dinner plates.  Drizzle with marinade reduction and sprinkle evenly with the honeyed pecans.   Serve immediately with your choice of veggie or two.


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