Hookers – Like People Who Catch Fish

Tilapia in a Lemon, White Wine, Caper Sauce

Hook Yourself Up with A Grown Up Dinner for One

With Halloween rapidly approaching, I think back on all of the costumes I selected growing up. For the first 8 or so years, I was a witch – spare me the life-art comments. Then, when I was finally allowed to select my own costumes, I was a cat (hate cats, not sure why I did that), a hobo – cuz I was going to Halloween during the depression? A candy striper – always the do-gooder – smiley face.

Most of the time my parents were OK with whatever I chose to be. My mother even made the witch costume that I wore for the first 8 years – hold comments until the end. But in 7th grade my friends and I on the verge of becoming little women decided to go a little more risque.

Risque…hmmm.  Bear in mind that in my somewhat conservative catholic home I wasn’t even allowed to wear a non-competitive swim suit in 7th or 8th or 9th grade. And, when I sported my first ‘fashion’ swimwear at 14, my father sent me home from the pool.

Toddlers in Tiaras

She’s such a pretty woman!

So, when I announced proudly that the girls and I were going to be hookers, you can imagine the reaction I received.

Yep, hookers.

I’m not even sure that I knew what hookers really did – but I did know that we would be able to look a lot cuter than we had as hobos the year prior.

Naively, I didn’t really anticipate any negative reaction from my parents. I mean I pretty much figured: Hookers. Hobos. Whatever.

Uhm, no.

My father instantly put the kibosh on that idea and informed me that the only hookers in the family would be people hooking fish.

OK. So candy striper repeat it was. Of course, it was an over-made up candy striper – but a do-good candy striper nonetheless.

As far as fishing and hookers…A couple of nights ago, I hooked a couple of tilapia filets at Whole Foods and made:

Tilapia in a White Wine Sauce (serves 1 – there’s no reason you can’t have a real meal when dining alone)

Frozen Tilapia Pescatarian Vegetarian

Have on hand

NOTE: If you’re using the Whole Foods frozen tilapia, 7 hours before you intend to cook, take one package out of the freezer, remove the packaging, place the filets in a baking dish, cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge.

1. Mise en place:

  • 1 tsp of capers rinsed and drained
  • 1 small shallot minced
  • 1/4 cup white wine – I used chardonnay because that’s what I had, but you might want to use a drier one
  • 1 tsp parsley chopped
  • the zest of one lemon
  • the juice of one lemon
Whole Foods frozen tiliapia

Mise En Place to Make even Anne Burrell Proud

2. In a 10-inch skillet over medium, heat 1 tsp of olive oil and 1 tbsp of butter.

3. Salt and Pepper the filets on both sides, gently coat in flour and place in the heated skillet

Tilapia searing in butter olive oil

Browning the Fish

4. Cook on each side for +/- :04 minutes – depending upon the thickness of the fish.

Lemon Caper White Wine Shallot Sauce

Beautifully Browned

5. Once the fish is wholly cooked, remove from the skillet and keep warm

6. Add the shallot to the skillet and saute until fragrant – about 2 mins

Lemon White Wine Caper shallot sauce

Saute the Shallot

7. Add the white wine and lemon juice and bring to a boil. Allow the sauce to thicken slightly – about :03mins. If you don’t feel like it’s thickening enough…throw in a little butter (1 tsp) and stir until it melts into the sauce

Whole Foods frozen tilapia

Add in White Wine and Lemon Juice

8. Stir in the lemon zest, parsley and capers

Lemon White Wine Shallot Caper Sauce

Stir in Parsley and Lemon Zest

9. Stir to combine flavors – about :02 mins. Then pour over the fish and serve

Cooking with Wine

Pour the Sauce over the Fish

Halloween is a time when you’re allowed and encouraged to be something you’re not. Whether it’s a witch (stop it), a hobo or even a hooker.

And, while I wasn’t ever allowed to dress like Pretty Woman, I ultimately became quite the skilled hooker…and cooker of fish.


Emergency Fish Fry

Fried Fish

Egg White Batter Fried Tilapia

During the days leading up to 2011’s Hurricane Irene we did what all New Yorkers did – planned a party. The news warned of apocalyptic flooding and power outtages. Told us to stock up on supplies and provisions. I raced to the grocery store to stock up on the necessities. Except that I was really puzzled by what those were. I watched other shoppers – all of whom looked equally confused as to what to buy.

No power? In New York, we just don’t lose power (save the blackout of 2003). And restaurants aren’t really ever closed. So, trying to wrap your head around no food and no power isn’t easy. I grabbed what I thought might be ok to sustain me and went home.

That night as we gathered at the apartment of a friend to hunker down for the storm, we all compared what provisions we had procured earlier that day. You have to love New Yorkers….Some of us bought canned tuna. Some bought large jugs of water. Some of us bought toilet paper and paper towels. Some of us emptied out our bank accounts – you know in case we had to use stacks of cash to buy transport off of the island.

All of us bought wine, beer or vodka. And, my favorite: All of us bought canned artichoke hearts. Because, like, if there was biblical flooding and no power, we would totally need to make an artichoke dip.

Frozen Tilapia Fillets

Fave Frozen Fish From Whole Foods

Even when not faced with the storm of the century, we might all want to have emergency food in the fridge. Something that can be whipped up pretty quickly and lasts a long time in the freezer.

Before I cooked so much, my freezer always held an emergency frozen pizza. Since then, I’ve evolved and now you can always find a package of frozen tilapia fillets from Whole Foods. I love these – $2.99….last a year and easy to prepare.

Plus – tilapia is a totally non-polarizing white fish.

Last night, there was no emergency, except that I didn’t want to venture out for supplies. And I hit up the Whole Foods emergency tilapia and made…

Egg Batter Fish Fry (Serves 2)

Heat about 1.5 inches of oil in a pot over medium heat. Oil needs to heat to 375 degrees

1. In a medium bowl using a hand mixer, beat two egg whites to stiff peaks

NOTE: I love my Cuisinart hand held mixer. It has this plastic case to hold all of the accessories AND the mixer itself. It’s apartment perfect!

Cuisinart Hand Held

Apartment Perfect

Beat Egg Whites with Cuisinart Hand Mixer

The Hand Mixer Magic

2. In a second, smaller bowl, combine 1 egg yolk with 1 1/2 tsp of flour and 1/4 tsp of salt

Combine egg yolk and flour

Mixing Flour and Egg Yolk

3. Mix about 1/2 of the egg yolk/flour mixture into the whipped egg whites

4. Carefully fold the remaining egg yolk/flour mixture into the whipped egg whites

Egg Whites Batter

Whipped Egg Whites

5. Gently fold in 1 tbsp of fresh lemon thyme leaves into the batter. If you can’t find lemon thyme, substitute 1/2 tsp of lemon zest and 1 tsp of thyme

Fried Tilapia Whole Foods

Lemon Thyme Egg White Batter

6. Cut two tilapia fillets into 4-6 pieces each

Fish Fillets Whole Foods

Sliced Tilapia Fillets

7. Pat the fish dry on both sides and lightly coat each in a flour mixed with a little salt and pepper

8. Dip each floured fish fillet piece into the Egg Batter – You will need to use a spoon or spatula to help cover the fillets with the batter

9. Carefully place each piece into the oil and allow to brown – about :03 mins

Whole Foods Frozen Fried Tilapia Fillets

Gently Frying

10. Flip each piece to brown the other side – about another :03 mins

Tilapia Fillets in Egg Batter Fry


11. Using a spider transfer the fish to a brown paper bag to drain

12. Make a dipping sauce:  In a small bowl, combine 1 tbsp of sour cream, 1 tbsp of mayonnaise, 1 tsp of Dijon mustard, the juice of one lemon and 1/2 tsp of Jane’s Krazy Mixed Up Salt

13. Serve while warm

I don’t generally like to fry in the apartment – because the apartment will now smell like fried for a couple of days. But, this was really good. The lightness of the egg white batter and flakey white fish is a nice contrast to a typical heavy fish fry.

And, I’d eat this emergency or not! Off to Whole Foods to restock the tilapia now.