Feel right as if you are in a tropical land while you learn how to make this fresh and flaky Lemon Pepper Tilapia!
Welcome back to another installment of food & vacation pics!
As I told you before, our Paraguay trip was both a babymoon as well as a family visit. This awesome Lemon Pepper Tilapia was inspired by a meal Konrad's cousin - who graciously hosted us for a few days - prepared for dinner one night.
Usually Konrad and I aren't very big on fish and seafood, but these white Tilapia fillets that don't actually taste fishy at all might in fact turn us around. The key flavor ingredients in this recipe is Lemon Pepper. Konrad's cousin brings over this seasoning mix from Canada whenever she visits and even has it shipped to Paraguay when she runs out 🙂
Fast, Exotic, Delicious
I love how quick and simple this Tilapia meal comes together - 30 minutes or less and you're plating up! I am scared to call it easy because I wasn't able to keep many of the fillets intact when flipping them. But I think this is just my inexperience with preparing fish. Tongs are probably not the right utensil for turning delicate, flaky white fish. So don't be like me and use a spatula instead!
Served with a side of rice (I like to add some frozen peas to the rice cooker) that pretty much cooks itself in the cooker, this meal can be ready on the table in no time flat.
Second Stop: Visit in the Gran Chaco
Moving on to our travels now; Paraguay's geography can be split into 2 different parts. The southeastern part (where the capital Asuncion is located) can be described as lush and tropical. It makes up only one third of the country's area, but the majority of people live here. The other two thirds are called the Gran Chaco. Only 2% of the population live here.
Inside the Gran Chaco, there are colony-like Mennonite settlements. These settlers of German origin came here by way of Canada, Russia or Mexico (between 1920's - 50's), and to this day, everyone still speaks mainly a German dialect. How cool!
From Asuncion, it took a 7-hour bus ride to get to Loma Plata - the Mennonite town Konrad was born and grew up in. During this time I kept my constant pregnancy hunger at bay with empanadas that were sold everywhere! I tried all different kinds, but my favorite were Empanada con Queso - a very nice cheese (sometimes with ham) filling.
We started our first day in Loma Plata with a walk along the town's main street. Agriculture is the main economic driving factor. There is a Cooperative that pretty much everyone sells to, be it milk, cattle or crops. These are 2 warehouse buildings of the Cooperative connected across the street via pipeline.
The town even has a small museum documenting the history of the Mennonites settling in the area. I can't help but love all the quaint red brick buildings.
Signing the guest book
The Cooperative also has a large supermarket in the town. It had a candy gazebo with all the Easter chocolates on display. Just wow.
During our visit with Konrad's dad, he even shot a little wild chicken - a quail of some sort.
And typical of the outdoor lifestyle, it was barbecued straight away (Sorry for the graphic content)
The cutest calves
Almost fitting in
Would love to be there when all these papayas ripen
Like I mentioned before - I couldn't keep myself from taking pictures of all the flowers
And this is how Konrad's cousin prepared the tilapia - that is, outdoors, over a charcoal fire in a wok-like pan (and a little more oil than I ended up using). The very warm temperatures make outdoor cooking very appealing. It doesn't heat up the house and you might catch the occasional breeze to cool down. Enjoy!!
30-Minute Sautéed Lemon Pepper Tilapia
- 1 pound Tilapia 4-5 fillets
- ¼ cup flour
- lemon pepper seasoning
- 2 tablespoons oil olive/avocado/oil etc.
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons parsley chopped
- Rinse the Tilapia fillets under cold water and pat dry with paper towel. Place flour in a shallow bowl and flour the fillets from both sides. Shake off excess. Season fillets with lemon pepper from both sides.
- Heat a non-stick skillet over high heat, add 1 tablespoon oil and heat as well. Place half of Tilapia fillets in pan, turn heat down to medium and sauté for about 4 minutes on each side.
- Repeat with another tablespoon of oil and remaining fillets. Remove Tilapia from pan and cover to keep warm.
- Turn heat to high and add butter and lemon juice to the pan. Cook for 1-2 minutes for butter to turn golden and take on a nutty aroma. Whisk in parsley and remove from heat.
- Serve sautéed Tilapia with rice (or carb of choice) and drizzle each fillet with a little lemon-butter sauce.
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Lemon pepper seasoning typically contains a combination of lemon zest and cracked black pepper, so it can provide a similar tangy and citrusy flavor profile to that of lemon juice. However, it may not provide the same level of acidity as lemon juice. If you prefer the taste of lemon pepper, you can certainly use it as a substitute for lemon juice, but be mindful of the difference in flavor intensity and adjust the quantity accordingly.
To prevent tilapia or any other fish from tasting fishy, it's crucial to ensure its freshness and proper handling. One way to reduce the fishy taste is by marinating the tilapia in a mixture of acidic ingredients like lemon or lime juice, vinegar, or even buttermilk. Additionally, cooking the fish with flavorful seasonings, herbs, and spices can help mask any undesirable fishy taste.
Soaking tilapia in milk is a common technique used to help neutralize any fishy odor or taste. Typically, you can soak the tilapia fillets in milk for around 15-20 minutes before cooking. This process helps to tenderize the fish and can result in a milder, more pleasant flavor.
If you don't have lemon pepper seasoning on hand, you can create a substitute by combining fresh lemon zest with cracked black pepper. Simply zest a lemon and mix the zest with an equal amount of cracked black pepper. This homemade blend can serve as an effective substitute for commercial lemon pepper seasoning, providing a similar citrusy and peppery flavor profile.