Crispy Pan-Fried Tilapia with Lemony Baby Arugula Salad

A few days ago, I got an email from a reader (hi, Lorianna!) asking me if I would share a few quick and easy weeknight recipes. I don't think she realized just how thoroughly I was going to reply, but I basically gave her a detailed inventory (including recipes) of the dishes I cook here at home most weeknights.

Once I finished the e-mail, I realized that 80% of the dishes in the message aren't even ones that I've featured here before! That is now going to change. Starting with this ridiculously easy fish dish that I make and eat about once a week (sometimes more!).

White fish fillets like snapper, tilapia, or sole are some my favorites. They're inexpensive, easy and quick to cook, has lovely subtle flavor, and (super key!) doesn't make my entire apartment smell like a seaside fish shack when I cook it.

There are a lot of things you can do with white fish, but my favorite is this simple preparation: seasoned generously with lots of good sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, then pan-fried until crisp and golden in a mix of butter and olive oil.  I lay this over a big huge pile of lemony-dressed arugula, and proceed to eat every single last little bite.

It's awesome. I promise.

P.S. It takes about 7 minutes to make. No joke.

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Pan-Fried Tilapia with Lemony Baby Arugula Salad
Serves 1. Multiply as necessary.

Print this Recipe
1 8-oz tilapia or other white fish fillet (like lemon sole, snapper, etc.)
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoon olive oil
sea-salt or kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3oz baby arugula greens
1 clove garlic
Juice of 1 lemon
Extra-virgin olive oil (use something good and fruity for the best flavor)
2 lemon wedges, for garnish (optional)

Rinse the tilapia fillet and pat dry with a paper towel, removing as much moisture as possible. Add the butter and olive oil to a medium skillet and place over medium-high heat. While it heats, season the tilapia generously on both sides with the sea-salt and black pepper.

Once the oil is hot, place the tilapia in the pan and let cook for 2-3 minutes or until golden and crisp on the pan side. Make sure that it is golden and crisp before flipping; if it isn't, leave for another minute or so until it is. Flip and cook on other side for another 2-3 minutes. (Again, until it is golden and crisp. It will be fine to eat if you don't wait, but that crust is where all the flavor is. Wait for it. It's worth it!)

While the fish cooks, place the arugula greens in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl or glass, whisk together the lemon juice with the second amount of olive oil  and the crushed garlic clove. Drizzle dressing over the salad and toss well to coat (remove the garlic clove). Season with salt and pepper.

Placed the cooked tilapia on top of the salad and drizzle on the pan juices. Garnish with 2 lemon wedges and serve immediately.

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