Everyone always says the best way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, but I’m pretty sure it’s the same for women too… really! A man can dine and wine his woman all he wants, but once he gets in the kitchen and puts his effort into cooking a delicious meal for her, he will definitely win her heart (and other things, if he’s lucky.) ;) yeaaah.
I always give my friends “Cooking for your date 101” tips. The girls are ALWAYS impressed and I’ve never seen my guy friends so proud to wear an apron.
Let me tell you a little story about my dear friend, Alex. Alex wanted to impress a girl he had just started to go out with, but he had a big dilemma… he didn’t know how to cook. (No… heating up frozen food doesn’t count). Does this sound like you?! It’s ok, because we have just the recipe for you! It’s not only super easy, and only takes 30 minutes to make, its also affordable (UNDER $15!) AND it gives you the skillz to appear like you just whipped up a gourmet meal for your date… SCORE!
PAN-SEARED TILAPIA WITH CHILE LIME/LEMON BUTTER
(pair with arugula & pear salad, and rice pilaf)
Yield: Makes 2 servings
Prep time: 25 minutes
Cook time: 5 minutes
CHILE LIME/LEMON BUTTER (I’ve made both lime & lemon and there isn’t much of a difference between them)
* 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
* 1 tablespoon finely chopped shallots
* 1 teaspoon finely grated fresh lime or lemon zest
* 2 teaspoons fresh lime or lemon juice
* 1 teaspoon minced fresh serrano or Jalapeño chiles (preferably red), include seeds
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
Stir together butter, shallots, zest, lemon juice, chiles, and salt in a bowl.
Remember that Bowl of Sin we made last year for our other “Dinner under $15 - SPICY ANCHOVIES & CAULIFLOWER PASTA”? Well, you can’t really wallow in too much “Sin”, but Bowl of Pleasure? Go ahead, bathe yourself in it, put it on everything, and slather as much as your sinful self can handle :P
FOR ARUGULA AND PEAR SALAD WITH TOASTED ALMOND (courtesy of our friend, Mich)
* 1 lb baby arugula
* 1 pear, thinly sliced
* parmigiano reggiano, thinly shaved
* toasted almonds, or any nuts you prefer… teehee, nuts
* extra virgin olive oil
* balsamic vinegar
Mix the first 4 ingredients together. Right before serving, drizzle extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar on top so it thinly coats the arugula leaves. Serve immediately as a side dish with tilapia and rice pilaf.
* 2 (5- to 6-oz) pieces skinless tilapia fillet or farm-raised striped bass fillets with skin. Our friend, Keith, suggests in the comment section below, “The cook should be flexible in his choice of fish, since he can cook any fillet like this. Which means - get the fish that’s on sale. And if you want to give it a better crust, try dipping the fish in a little flour.”
* 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
* some freshly ground pepper
* 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
* 1 Near East rice pilaf (any type that you like), cook per instructions on box
Prepare fish after the salad and rice pilaf is finished.
For striped bass, score skin in 3 or 4 places with a thin sharp knife to prevent fish from curling (do not cut through flesh).
Pat fish dry and sprinkle with kosher salt and pepper.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over moderately high heat until just smoking, then sauté 2 pieces of fish, gently turning over once with a spatula, until golden and just cooked through, for about 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
Serve immediately. Top each piece of fish with a dollop of chile lime butter.
Cooks’ note: · Chile lime butter can be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered. Bring to room temperature before using.
Pair this dish with full bodied white wines because they are rich and lush, allowing them to work well with this recipe. Or fruity white wines that have a strong body, making them excellent choices to pair with the spicy lime flavor.
So Alex not only successfully made this dinner for his date, but he also impressed her so much, that they got in a real relationship and are now happily married, with an adorable 1 year old son :). And he once told me (with a mischievous grin) that this is the ONLY dish he has ever cooked for his wife while they were dating… So there you have it, all it takes is that ONE delicious meal and she might be yours FOR.E.VER :)
Til next time, good luck fellas (and ladies)