Easy to Love

Try tilapia with chile lime butter for a romantic meal

Chill the champagne, pick up some gourmet chocolates and don’t forget the flowers. Valentine’s Day is here. It’s time to celebrate love with tiny cupids, red hearts and a delicious dinner. I have chosen pan-seared tilapia with chile lime butter for the main course. It’s easy to prepare, yet gets “glammed up” with the special butter. The heat of the chiles and the clean citrus flavor of lime complement the delicate tilapia. Keep the rest of the menu light—maybe potatoes Anna and a tossed green salad with fruit—and you’ll have room to enjoy those decadent chocolates and champagne. A simple approach makes this a holiday even the cook can enjoy.

RECIPE: Pan-Seared Tilapia with Chile Lime Butter

Chile Lime Butter

1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh lime zest
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon minced fresh Thai or serrano chile (preferably red, including seeds)
1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions: Stir together butter, shallot, zest, lime juice, chile and salt in bowl. (The butter can be made 1 day ahead and chilled covered. Bring to room temperature before using.)


6 (5–6 oz) pieces skinless tilapia or farm-raised striped bass fillets with skin
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Directions: If using striped bass, score skin in 3 or 4 places with a thin, sharp knife to prevent fish from curling (do not cut through flesh).
Pat fish dry and sprinkle with salt. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over moderately high heat until just smoking, then sauté 3 pieces of fish, turning over once with a spatula, until golden and just cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes, and transfer to a plate. Sauté remaining fish in remaining tablespoon oil in same manner.

Serve each piece of fish with a dollop of chile lime butter.

Makes 6 servings.

Recipe courtesy of Gourmet magazine.

Nancy Lynch is a self-taught cook from a family of foodies. She teaches cooking classes at Orange Tree Imports and All Through the House in Stoughton. E-mail your questions, comments or recipe requests to diningin@madisonmagazine.com.

Find more Dining In recipes here.

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