Mediterranean Style Tilapia Fillet
with Pig’s Caul, Kalamata Olive Tapenade,
Spinach, Tomatoes and Saffron Potatoes

IMG_6257 copyFROM yesterday’s delightful sit-down lunch at InterContinental Manila’s Prince Albert Rotisserie, I want to share the recipe of the main course, Mediterranean Style Tilapia Fillet with Pig’s Caul, Kalamata Olive Tapenade, Spinach, Tomatoes and Saffron Potatoes. Based on experience, it doesn’t usually happen that the main course of a sit-down lunch (or dinner) is a fish dish. Unless it’s a full-course meal that starts with amuse bouche, appetizer, salad and soup, progresses to the first course, which is a fish or seafood dish, proceeds to a meat dish after a palate-cleansing serving of sorbet, and then ends with dessert plus coffee or tea with chocolate pralines or truffles, biscotti or madeleines. Sometimes a cheese platter even squeezes itself into the already full course. But when it’s a simple sit-down lunch with just one entrée, it’s either the host lets you choose between a fish/seafood and a meat dish, or it’s a meat dish (beef, pork, chicken or lamb, usually).

Being a non-red meat eater, I usually check out the menu card on the table when attending an event with a sit-down lunch setup. I already kinda expect the main course to be beef or lamb, in which case I’d eat the sidings and pass on the main item to my seatmate. When I do find chicken on the menu, I smile because it’s something that I can eat. On occasions when I find fish or seafood on the menu as the main course, I get, well, ‘overjoyed,’ for it means I’ll be getting a fully satisfying meal.

Yesterday was one of those times, and I loved the Mediterranean Style Tilapia Fillet, a signature dish from InterContinental Paphos, Cyprus. InterContinental Manila’s Scottish executive chef, Alisdair Bletcher, who sat with us after having his staff dish out the last course, said that the hotel gets its tilapias whole from a local source, and fish fabrication is done in the hotel. But to make it easier for home cooks to duplicate the dish, frozen tilapia fillets are now available in major supermarkets, and so is olive tapenade.

Now, here’s the recipe so you can start making your own Mediterranean Style Tilapia Fillet.

60 ml. extra virgin olive oil
280 grams tomatoes, peeled and cut into 2.5cm squares
60 ml. balsamic vinegar
10 grams white sugar
60 ml. white wine
pinch of saffron threads
150 grams spring onion, sliced
salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat a large, shallow pan and add olive oil. Sauté tomatoes for a minute.
2. Add balsamic vinegar, sugar, wine and a pinch of saffron threads. Bring to a boil.
3. Simmer until tomatoes are tender.
4. Add spring onion, and season with salt and pepper.

250 grams fennel, sliced
60 ml. extra virgin olive oil
500 grams baby potatoes, peeled
2 grams saffron threads
yellow food coloring
10 grams unsalted butter
salt and pepper to taste

1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, and blanch the fennel slices. Remove from heat and drain well.
2. Using the same pot, heat olive oil and add the blanched fennel, sautéeing it lightly. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Place potatoes in a pan of cold water and add some salt. Bring water to a boil and add remaining saffron threads and a little yellow food coloring. Cover pan and simmer until potatoes are tender.
4. Heat butter in pan and add potatoes, tossing them gently to coat them with butter. Season with salt and pepper.

60 grams unsalted butter
60 grams chopped onion
5 grams chopped garlic
225 grams frozen leaf spinach, blanched, refreshed and squeezed
salt and pepper to taste
1.280 kgs. tilapia fillets (16×80 grams, with skin on)
40 ml. extra virgin olive oil
60 grams Kalamata olive tapenade*
320 grams sinsal, panyo or pig’s caul

1. Melt butter in pan. Sauté onion and garlic until fragrant, then add spinach. Mix well and season with salt and pepper. Let cool.
2. Rub tilapia fillets with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.
3. Lay one fillet, skin side down, on working surface and coat top with a little olive tapenade (*available in bottled form in major supermarkets). Make a layer of spinach, then cover with another tilapia fillet (also brushed with olive tapenade), skin side up this time. Wrap with pig’s caul to hold stuffed tilapia fillets in place.
4. Cook on a medium-to-hot skillet just until done. Allow the pig’s caul to brown nicely.

460 grams cantaloupe melon, balled
16 pcs. caper berries with stem
60 grams flat-leaf parsley sprigs

1. To plate, spoon some tomatoes and their juices onto a large pasta plate. Add fennel and saffron potatoes.
2. Place stuffed tilapia fillets in the center.
3. Garnish with fried caper berries, flat-leaf parsley sprig and three melon balls per plate.

Makes 8 servings.

Category(s): Fish/Seafood, Recipes
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