FISH SAUCE FOR PASTA (SICILIAN)
Tilapia ... any of you tried this trendy "new" fish? Hot stuff in "Mediterranean Rim" cooking, it's also known as St. Peter's Fish or (in Arabic) mousht, and it's the kind of fish that even non-fish-lovers enjoy: Firm, light and slightly sweet, not oily or "fishy" at all.
We get it here in boneless, skinless fillets that generally run a little under 1/2 pound, and our usual supplier -- a high-quality, no-discount spot -- gets $7.95 or $8.95 a pound for it.
Since I've been using a lot of fresh tomatoes and basil lately to try to stay ahead of the garden, I rang another change on the salsa-cruda shtick I've been doing a lot lately to turn last night's tilapia into a Genoese-style pasta dinner.
Start by chopping three or four fresh scallions fine (about 3/4 cup) and mincing a couple of garlic cloves (about 1 tablespoon), and sautee them in a tablespoon of good olive oil in a nonstick saut‚e pan until they're translucent. Add one cup of peeled, chopped fresh tomatoes and 8 or 10 fresh basil leaves sliced very fine, plus salt, pepper and a dash of hot sauce (if you're in the mood) and let it all cook together for five minutes or so, just until the tomatoes resolve into a sauce.
Cut two or three tilapia fillets into one-inch cubes (roughly) and add them to the tomato sauce. Turn the heat down very low, cover, and leave to cook for five or six minutes, just long enough to cook the fish through without overcooking.
While working on the above, you'll have put pasta water on to boil and started enough spaghetti or spaghettini for two so as to finish at the same time as the fish is cooked.
Bring 'em together in a serving bowl and serve with lots of Parmigiano Reggiano, a salad (we went with fresh sliced tomatoes and basil, of course, drizzled with olive oil and alternated with thin slices of fresh mozzarella) and crusty bread.
An inexpensive Georges Duboeuf 1993 Chasan made a perfect accompaniment, but any dry white suitable for fish would be fine.