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Facing My Food 
Mar. 4, 2010 10:50 am 
I don't like my food staring back at me when I eat it. Unfortunately, that's exactly what I faced (literally) when I made the Braised Tilapia recipe, below. Typically I pick a recipe that sounds good and then shop for the ingredients, but this time the ingredient necessitated the recipe.
See, a few weeks ago our grocery store had a sale on fresh fish, and my father stocked up, including a package of frozen whole tilapia. He later said he didn't realize they were whole, and since he turns 93 this week, I suppose I should cut him some slack. But that didn't change the fact that I'm the chief cook for our household, and that I'd have to deal with those dead fish staring at me!
However, I found a great recipe that told me exactly how to cook them, and one night last week I finally braved it. I'm glad I did; the recipe is wonderful--although next time I will substitute fish filets instead. No amount of tastiness makes me willing to again have those cold fish eyes reproaching me!

Braised Tilapia

3 or 4 whole tilapia*
1/4 cup fresh ginger, slivered
     or 1 tbl Watkins Ginger / Canadian Link
8 sliced green onions, both white & green parts
3/4 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup rice wine or white wine
1/4 cup Balsamic vinegar
2 tbl sugar
peanut oil
Rinse the fish and pat dry. If using whole fish, cut 2 or 3 slashes from back to belly on both sides of the fish. Cut to bone level, and space the slashes about 1½ inches apart.
Slice the ginger and green onions. Mix together the soy sauce, wine, vinegar and sugar until well blended.
Heat a large skillet or wok until a drop of water sprinkled on it quickly evaporates. Fill with peanut oil to about 1/4 inch depth. (If using a wok, swirl about 1/3 cup peanut oil to coat the surface.) When the oil is hot, add the fish. Fry each side about 2 minutes to brown. Remove the fish and reduce the heat.
Saute the ginger in the skillet until lightly browned. Add the green onions and return the fish to the skillet. Pour about 1/4 of the sauce over the fish. Cook 2 or 3 minutes on each side, or until the flesh is flaky and white. (If using a whole fish, make sure flesh is no longer pink near the bone.) As the sauce evaporates, add more a little at a time.
When fish is almost done, pour remaining sauce into the skillet and simmer until sauce is condensed and thickened.
Serve fish with rice, pouring the sauce over all.
*Also good with whole trout--or, if you're like me and don't like fish staring at you--fresh fish filets such as tilapia, salmon, cod, whiting, or orange roughy.
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