Parchment Baked Tilapia

All things considered, I like running outdoors a lot better than sweating it out on the treadmill. But the treadmill has a huge factor in the pro column--magazines.  Glorious magazines left by other gym patrons, waiting to be oogled and pilfered by yours truly.  Calm down.  I don't take the whole magazine, but I do rip out recipes.  Last week I ripped out three recipes on my 3.5 mile run, and the guy next to me didn't notice at all.  Or at least he kindly pretended not to notice.

One recipe I "borrowed" was from this month's Martha Stewart Living, and it was for bass cooked in parchment paper.  If I knew I wouldn't lose readership, I'd devote the next 10 postings to the wonders of parchment paper.  One little paragraph? Please?  Thank you.  It used to be that, when I read recipes which demanded parchment paper, I felt left out.  For one, I could never find it in the grocery store.  And if I could, it was a measly little roll for $5.99.  And I've seen some recipes that say you can substitute waxed paper, but that's not true.  Don't believe them.  So, you wonder aloud, how did The Leftoverist solve this problem?  

Second paragraph.  Sorry.  All is well now that I have begun buying the GIANT box of parchment paper at Cash and Carry.  It sits on top of my fridge, and it's like a security blanket.  Or a fat bank account.  Or any number of comforting things.  It costs around 35 dollars (I know), but it will last me at least until the end of Obama's second term.  (Oh yes. He will have one.) The sheets are flat (no roly poly nonsense) and are restaurant-size full sheets, which means you can get two home baking sheets out of them.  

Third paragraph.  Please stay with me.  Things I use it for (and flagrantly because I have so much):  nachos, cookies, roasted vegetables, oven fries, bacon, as wrapping paper, and between layers of baked goods that I'm giving as gifts.  And now, steaming fish.  Tilapia, to be exact.

Martha's recipe was black bass with soy sauce, sugar, and julienned ginger, and that would have been delicious.  You could also use the dressing from the broccoli bowl posting.  I happened to have some lemongrass dressing around that I made earlier in the week, so I used that along with some serrano peppers, green onions, and red chili flakes.

I stopped at Mutual Fish (a treat I allow myself every 6 or 8 weeks) and noticed that tilapia was only $3.99/lb, and they filleted it right in front of me.  At that price, we can eat this more often.  And Milo and Loretta had more fun in there than if we had paid $40 to go the Pacific Science Center.

So back to the parchment paper.  If you don't have it, I suppose you could steam this fish in foil and it would turn out fine.  My pushy advice is to find a friend or two that might want to go in on a box of the blessed paper.  You might fight over who gets to keep it on top of their fridge, though.

P.S. We ate this with steamed rice and zucchini that was stir-fried with garlic and a little more of the lemongrass dressing.

Parchment Baked Tilapia
adapted from Martha Stewart Living (May 2009)

4 8 oz. fillets of firm-fleshed mild fish (like bass or tilapia)
6 Tb. soy sauce whisked with 1 ts. sugar OR 8 Tb. lemongrass dressing (recipe follows)
6 Tb. julienned (matchstick-shaped) fresh ginger
1/4 c. chopped green onions
1 serrano chile, seeded and cut into rings
red chile flakes

Preheat oven to 400.  Place each fillet in the center of a piece of parchment paper that's big enough to fold up around it.  Top each with a drizzle of soy mixture or lemongrass dressing and a scattering of ginger, green onions, serrano, and chile flakes.  Fold edges to seal, place on a baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes.

Lemongrass Dressing
from Sally Schneider's A New Way to Cook--I'd double this if you're going to the trouble to make it

3 Tb. fresh lime juice
2 Tb. fish sauce
1 Tb. rice vinegar
1 1/2 ts. sesame oil
1 Tb. + 1 ts. sugar
2 ts. grated fresh ginger
1 ts. minced fresh lemongrass (inner white bulb only)
pinch of red pepper flakes

Combine everything as much in advance as possible.  The dressing is better as the flavors develop.