So, my boyfriend’s cousin cooked this absolutely delicious Filipino-style fried tilapia. She also said things like “It’s easy” and “You just cut off the fins” and “It’s easy.” So, I thought I’d give it a try.
I bought a pre-gutted frozen tilapia at Kenmore’s T&T Market. Pretty inexpensive! Unfortunately, as it thawed, it bled nummy fish juices into my refrigerator. Eventually I realized that the large tupperware my roommate left behind was an excellent alternative.
Then came the “easy” part — cutting off the tails and fins. I took out my butcher knife, aimed it roughly at the end of the fish’s tail, and began to make my incision. That’s when I remembered…
I am afraid of food that looks at me.
It didn’t help that the knife wasn’t really doing much damage. I took a moment of moral quandary, and then woke up my boyfriend, made sad eyes, and explained that white people weren’t accustomed to food that looks like it did when it was alive. (Sorry, fellow white people! I know it’s not true for everyone!) So he begrudgingly went into the kitchen, and spent about 20 minutes hacking the fins off this fish. I also said things like “This was a terrible idea” and “I won’t have a fried fish experiment again.” In retrospect, maybe a fresh fish will be easier!
The rest of the adventure went fairly okay. I put a dollop of canola oil in the frying pan on medium heat, and let it go for around 10 minutes until the flesh on the bottom part whitened up, then flipped it over and did the same.
My boyfriend’s remark was that the whole condo would smell like fish. Lucky for me, I have a terrible sense of smell!
The only addition was to dip it in Sili suka, which is a spicy vinegar with chilis, garlic, and onions floating in it. I added salt and pepper to it, and probably would have added chopped garlic and onion if I’d had any. Turned out yummy!