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St. Peter's Fish pronto

It’s Saturday evening and I reach into the fridge for last night’s leftovers to feed the family. To my dismay, I realize we don’t exactly have a lot left over – two pieces of pizza just isn’t going to cut it for the three of us. My finger-tapping on the fridge and wondering what we’re going to have is interrupted by a loud knock on our front door. It’s Andy, my husband’s best friend. Great. Make that four of us. Now we really have a dinner dilemma, since I have nothing thawed and don’t exactly want to order a pizza for the second night in a row. I think of the miracle of the loaves and the fishes and an idea pops into my head: tilapia.

The tilapia fish goes as far back as ancient Egypt and was the fish that Jesus used to feed the 5,000 folks at the Sea of Galilee. One of its common names is “St. Peter’s Fish” since it was what the Apostle Peter caught as a fisherman. And how apropos, since generosity and sharing (one of the key takeaways from Jesus’ miracle of the loaves and fishes), is exactly what I need to remind myself of to overcome the frustration of Andy’s ‘timely’ arrival at our door.

But the best part about tilapia – or any fish for that matter –  is that it cooks very quickly.  Even if frozen, individually wrapped fillets thaw within 15 minutes in a bowl of cool water. The following recipe for blackened tilapia (our favorite) is the one I use often and it is as gourmet in taste as it is quick to cook. My recommendation is to try it on June 29, the feast day of St. Peter. Just before you take your first bite, consider the wonderful reality that this is the same fish our Lord ate with his followers 2,000 years ago.

You will need:

• 2 tablespoons garlic powder

• 2 tablespoons salt

• 2 tablespoons paprika

• 1 tablespoon onion powder

• 1 tablespoon black pepper

• 1 tablespoon dried oregano

• 1 tablespoon dried thyme

• 1 ½  teaspoons cayenne pepper, or to taste (I like it hot)

• 4 tilapia fillets

• ½ stick of melted butter or a few tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil

• 1 lemon, cut into wedges

• small bunch of fresh parsley

Directions:

In an empty spice jar or small bowl, make the blackening seasoning by combining all of the above dry spices. Set aside. Heat a heavy skillet (preferably cast iron) on high for a few minutes. Coat the fish fillets with melted butter or oil and generously sprinkle the blackening seasoning on both sides of tilapia fillets (remaining seasoning can be stored for later use). Sear fillets in hot skillet for about 2-3 minutes on each side (until they are blackened and cooked through). Give them a squeeze of lemon and garnish with chopped fresh parsley for extra flavor and serve over a bed of cooked rice and veggies.