Why tilapia? It’s inexpensive, it’s tasty and it’s one of my family’s favorite fish. Fry it, steam it, grill it — tilapia is simply delicious.
- juice of one lemon
- 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 pinch a pinch of salt
- few drops lemon extract
- few drops yellow food color
- For the garnish:
- 1 red finger chilis finely sliced
- 3 onion leaves cut into 2-inch lengths and finely sliced vertically
Score the tilapia diagonally across the back. Do it on both sides (see tips on how to “score” a fish). Rub the tilapia all over with salt, including inside the cuts where the fish has been scored.
Make the lemon sauce. Pour the lemon juice into a pan. Add the sugar. Set over high heat and wait for the sugar to start caramelizing. DO NOT stir to avoid the formation of crystals. You may, however, swirl the pan. When the sugar has melted, add the salt, lower the heat to medium and continue boiling gently until thickened. Do not allow the sauce to thicken so much as it thickens some more as it cools. When the sauce is done, add the lemon extract and food color. Swirl around a few times to blend.
Fry the fish. Heat the cooking oil until wisps of smoke float on the surface. Sprinkle the tilapia with starch and slide into the hot oil. Flip halfway through for even cooking and browning.
When the fish is done, transfer to a serving platter. Scatter the sliced chilis and onion leaves on top. Pour the sauce over and around the fish.
Serve the tilapia with lemon sauce and chili at once.