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December 10, 2008

Tilapia the Immigrant Fish Meets Tomato Soup


Despite a long history of being turned into things that people eat, the tilapia is one of the new wave of legal immigrants to American shores.


Let us dispense with theorizing why this is the case. Sometimes it is appropriate to question why someone does something, but the tilapia is a fish and they are not known for having subtle or heavily disguised motives.


Your approach to fish first must answer these important questions:


What is the nature of the fish? How will it stand up to the final test – the application of food to one’s tongue?


Tilapia is a firm fish, which means it is a more versatile fish. Other, more delicate fish with more pronounced self-esteem issues break down easily upon cooking, flaking apart at even the most mild fork-related provocation.


But it is an immigrant to these shores, and should be made to feel at home.


The way to do that is to introduce it to what is perhaps our greatest of comfort foods – tomato soup.


We all know tomato soup for its ability to introduce calm on cold, gloomy days. It is said that there are secret police agencies studying the potential of tomato soup in riot situations, believing that the inherent calm it bestows could end even the most savage street fighting involving thousands.


Start by laying down at the bottom of a shallow baking dish a very thin layer of tomato soup and then your tilapia filets. While baking – preheat your oven to 350 degrees – the soup on the bottom will act as a grease, lubricating the fish and preventing it from becoming affixed to the bottom of your pan.


In a separate bowl, mix tomato soup, lemon juice, garlic, capers and diced black olive. Also, if you once possessed the proper foresight to remove the tops of some carrots and dry those as an herb, use some dried carrot top. If you didn’t, feel a whiff of retroactive shame. But you may instead use the ugly cousin of the carrot top, dried parsley.


Now, place a layer of this over the fish. It should not be too deep. The idea is to provide a comfortable place for your fish, not to drown it. Drowning someone – even a fish – in tomato soup is not generally regarded to be hospitable treatment.


Place this in the oven for about 20 minutes, and be sure to stand guard. To leave tomato soup warming and unguarded always leaves open the possibility that someone passing by might avail themselves of the opportunity to dunk a grilled cheese sandwich into it for a comforting lunch. This would be a fate most unkind to the soup and most certainly a terrible insult to the fish.


The fish is done when it is firm and flakes with a fork. Remove the fish from the baking dish and lay over a bed of warm rice – if anyone has thought of a more inviting and comforting bed than warmed rice, they have not been forthcoming with this information.


© 2008 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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