Tonight we decided to try a recipe for tilapia, a fish that I’ve had frequently in America but the Italian had never heard of. Apparently tilapia is relatively new to Italy, while in the US it is the third most farmed fish after salmon and catfish. Tilapia is a very lean, white fish that has almost no flavor of its own, so it is a good fish to try out with a strong sauce.
The recipe we found was from an Italian website, In Cucina Con i Surgelati, and it featured a delicious sauce made of capers, anchovies, and white wine. The recipe uses a very Italian manner of cooking fish called “al Cartoccio”, which refers to wrapping the fish in foil, parchment paper or, traditionally, an oiled brown paper bag and creating a packet before baking it in the oven. “Al Cartoccio” is often translated as “in a package” because the diner gets to pull back the paper and discover the deliciousness within. Italians cook all types of fish this way and even have a recipe for Spaghetti al Cartoccio!
We bought our tilapia from Seven Sisters market and they were whole, although the recipe can also be done with tilapia fillets.
Tilapia al Cartoccio (Baked Tilapia in Foil)
Recipe for 4 people, preparation time 40 minutes. Pre-heat oven to 180 C (350 F).
Tilapia fillets (4)
Butter (2.5 Tbs)
Fresh parsley (handful)
Chopped onions (2, or 4 small)
Anchovies (4 strips, washed and de-salted)
Capers (6 tsp)
White wine (1 cup)
Chili peppers (a pinch)
Salt and pepper (to taste)
Defrost fish if using frozen fillets.
Wash the capers and cook them in a pan over a low-medium flame along with the butter, chili peppers, chopped onions, anchovies and parsley. Cook the sauce for about 10 minutes or until the onions are cooked.
Tear off four pieces of tin foil and place each fish on its own foil. Pour one-fourth of the sauce over each fish, and then 1/4 cup of wine over that.
Wrap the foil around the fish so that it covers the head and the tail ends and crimp these edges, but leave a pocket of air between the body of the fish and the top of the foil.
Cook in oven around 40 minutes at 180 C (350 F).
The finished product. Excellent, flavorful sauce with a light fish.