Zesty Tilapia Milanese Recipe

Developer Kate Shungu describes her tilapia Milanese recipe as "a lighter spin on chicken Milanese." She likes the fact that this simple dish involves a number of contrasting textures — the crumb coating is crunchy, the fish inside is flaky, while the arugula salad she uses as a topping adds yet another dimension to the dish. The tilapia is extra-flavorful, too, thanks to a double dose of seafood's best friend, lemon. Shungu not only uses the juice in her salad dressing but also mixes some zest in with the breadcrumb coating.

This tilapia Milanese can make for a great weeknight dinner as it's easy to prepare and can be cooked quite quickly. Shungu notes that the fried fish can last for four days in the refrigerator and be heated up again in a frying pan, but she cautions that leftover salad will tend to wilt. If you anticipate having leftovers, your best bet would be to prepare only as much salad as you need for one meal, then make more as necessary whenever you eat the remaining fish.

Gather the ingredients for the zesty tilapia Milanese

In order to cook the tilapia, you'll need the fish itself, plus some flour, eggs, breadcrumbs, a lemon, salt, and olive oil. Additional ingredients for the salad and dressing include shallots, Dijon mustard, honey, arugula, and Parmesan cheese.

Step 1: Prepare a mise en place for fish dipping

‌Prepare 3 shallow bowls: one with the flour, one with the beaten eggs, and another with the panko breadcrumbs.

Step 2: Stir the lemon zest into the breadcrumbs.

Use a fork to mix the lemon zest into the bowl with the breadcrumbs.

Step 3: Salt the tilapia

Season the tilapia filets with ¾ teaspoon salt.

Step 4: Warm the oil

Heat ¼ cup olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.

Step 5: Bread the fish

Dredge each filet in the flour, then in the beaten eggs, then in the breadcrumbs. Make sure each filet is fully coated with breadcrumbs.

Step 6: Fry the fish on one side

Place the filets into the hot oil. Cook for 2–3 minutes, or until the breadcrumbs are golden brown.

Step 7: Fry the fish on the other side

Flip and continue cooking for 2–3 minutes more, or until the fish flakes easily with a fork. Remove from the heat.

Step 8: Make the salad dressing

In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil, shallots, Dijon, lemon juice, honey, and remaining ¼ teaspoon salt to create a vinaigrette.

Step 9: Dress the salad

Place the arugula and Parmesan in a large bowl and pour the vinaigrette over the top. Toss gently to combine.

Step 10: Put the salad on top of the tilapia

Transfer the tilapia to a serving platter and top with the arugula salad. Garnish with additional Parmesan.

What are some tips for properly breading tilapia?

Shungu likes to use panko breadcrumbs to give her tilapia a crunchy coating. If you don't have this particular type on hand, you can DIY your breadcrumbs just like Ina Garten does. You can also use other breadcrumb substitutes, such as crushed crackers, croutons, or even potato chips. Whatever crumbs you use, the trick lies in getting the coating to stick, and for this Shungu uses a pretty standard, three-step breading process.

First, you dip the fish filets in flour. As Shungu explains, this gives the outside of the fish a dry, powdery coating that, in turn, gives the second layer (beaten eggs) something to cling to. The eggs, in turn, make a sticky surface that allows the crumbs to adhere. As Shungu explains, fish + flour + eggs + crumbs combine to create what she describes as "a crispy coating that won't come off when cooked."

How do you add more flavor to a vinaigrette?

A vinaigrette, as Shungu tells us, "can be as simple as acid + oil." Most cooks, however, prefer to add a few more flavorings to their salad dressing, as does she. One of the ingredients she likes to use is honey, which counteracts the sourness of lemon juice. Everyone's taste preferences vary, however, so you may wish to add a bit more honey if you like sweeter salad dressings or reduce it if you prefer them to be extra tangy.

Another ingredient Shungu uses in her dressing is mustard, which not only adds pungency but can also help emulsify the oil and lemon juice. As for the shallots, these serve as a mild aromatic, while salt just makes everything taste better. Stir everything together, and what have you got? A vinaigrette dressing that Shungu feels has a "bright, fresh flavor that makes the arugula really pop."

Zesty Tilapia Milanese Recipe
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A lighter variation on classic chicken Milanese, this pan-seared tilapia recipe sings with plentiful lemon and a bright, arugula salad as a topping.
Prep Time
15
minutes
Cook Time
4
minutes
Servings
3
Servings
fried fish with salad
Total time: 19 minutes
Ingredients
  • ‌½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 ¼ cups panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • ¾ + ¼ teaspoon salt, divided
  • 3 tilapia filets (roughly 1 pound total)
  • ¼ cup + 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallots
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 3 cups arugula
  • ¼ cup shredded Parmesan, plus more for garnish
Directions
  1. Prepare 3 shallow bowls: one with the flour, one with the beaten eggs, and another with the panko breadcrumbs.
  2. Use a fork to mix the lemon zest into the bowl with the breadcrumbs.
  3. Season the tilapia filets with ¾ teaspoon salt.
  4. Heat ¼ cup olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  5. Dredge each filet in the flour, then in the beaten eggs, then in the breadcrumbs. Make sure each filet is fully coated with breadcrumbs.
  6. Place the filets into the hot oil. Cook for 2–3 minutes, or until the breadcrumbs are golden brown.
  7. Flip and continue cooking for 2–3 minutes more, or until the fish flakes easily with a fork. Remove from the heat.
  8. In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil, shallots, Dijon, lemon juice, honey, and remaining ¼ teaspoon salt to create a vinaigrette.
  9. Place the arugula and Parmesan in a large bowl and pour the vinaigrette over the top. Toss gently to combine.
  10. Transfer the tilapia to a serving platter and top with the arugula salad. Garnish with additional Parmesan.
Nutrition
Calories per Serving 668
Total Fat 40.6 g
Saturated Fat 7.8 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 173.1 mg
Total Carbohydrates 40.6 g
Dietary Fiber 2.7 g
Total Sugars 4.6 g
Sodium 697.4 mg
Protein 36.9 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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