Now that I live in Baltimore, I go to my parents’ house two to four times a month to visit and do laundry and, more often than not, I’ll also spend the night there. My parents are big meat eaters – they love that Kenny is back on all types of meat so he can eat pork rolls and buffalo hot dogs with them – but when we cook dinner, we’ll usually have fish, the protein that all of us will eat. Almost every time, we’ll make gumbopages.com’s broiled tilapia with sweet potatoes, roasted pecans, and graham crackers.
A sweet, white fish, tilapia contains low levels of mercury, according to the National Resources Defense Council, making it safe for even pregnant women to eat. (Contrary to what I’ve heard in the past, the American Pregnancy Association says that pregnant women should not give up all seafood completely because fish and shellfish contain nutrients essential for healthy development.)
It is also “aquacultured around the world from Asia, to South America, to the United States and Canada,” according to the Food Lover’s Companion. The fish we ate was indeed farmed. But the Monterey Bay Aquarium says that tilapia is a good choice for farming, and that the tilapia farmed in the U.S. are the best choice. Tilapia from China and Taiwan should be avoided, “where pollution and weak management are a problem.” (Read my thoughts on aquaculture in the post “Aquaculture and Seafood: the Good, the Bad, and the Sustainable.”)
So even though the tilapia you buy will most likely be farmed, you can feel good about eating it, especially with these creamy sweet potatoes, and the crunch of the nuts and graham crackers. I think a sprinkling of good salt on top creates a nice flavor balance by offsetting the sweetness.
The recipe for Broiled Tilapia with Sweet Potato Crust is available from www.gumbopages.com. We have never made the accompanying vanilla cream sauce, but if you try it, please let me know how you like it. We also always have leftover sweet potatoes and topping. Scoop the sweet potatoes in a small dish, add the pecan/graham cracker mixture, and baked it on its own. It’s still delicious without the fish!