As soon as I had the first bite of this dish in my mouth I thought "Bacon tomato butter -- where have you been all my life??!!??" It is seriously, seriously good stuff. The best part (well, besides the bacon since bacon in any dish would clearly be the best part) is that it is made with cherry or grape tomatoes which means it will be easy to make year-round. I tend to avoid regular full-size tomatoes when they aren't in season since the quality declines so much, but cherry and grape tomatoes are generally good all year round. They are at their best in late summer, like any tomato, but I think they don't suffer as much over the winter months. I know many localvore, seasonal eaters would disagree and consider eating any tomatoes in the dead of winter to be non-foodie behavior, but I'm okay with that.
I found this recipe in an issue of Cooking Light and I really don't know why I waited so long to make it. Big mistake, huge, big mistake. I made only one major change, using tilapia instead of mahimahi. I think mahimahi would be great in this dish, we just had tilapia in the freezer so that's what I used. I think it would be equally good over grilled or pan-cooked chicken as well. Really, I mean, let's be honest -- there isn't much that I wouldn't eat bacon tomato butter on. I also added more bacon than was called for in the original recipe, partly to use up what I had on hand, and partly because when is more bacon ever a bad thing?? I contemplated using the leftover bacon tomato mixture as a filling to a grilled cheese, but there wasn't any leftover. Maybe next time I'll show some restraint and save some but I'm not making any promises. ;-)
Tilapia with Bacon Tomato Butter
slightly adapted from Cooking Light, August 2010
2 cups water
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons sugar
4 tilapia filets
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
4 slices bacon, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
2 tablespoons butter
- Combine first 3 ingredients in a shallow baking dish. Add fish. Let stand 20 minutes. Remove fish and pat dry with paper towels.
- Heat grill. Season fish with the 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt. Place fish on grill, cook until done, flipping once, about 3-5 minutes per side, depending on thickness.
- While the fish is grilling, heat a medium skillet over medium heat. Add bacon to pan. Cook 5 minutes or until almost crisp. Add garlic and cook for two more minutes, stirring frequently. Add paprika and cook for 30 seconds, continuously stirring. Add tomatoes and cook until just softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in butter.
- Serve fish fillets on plate, topping with bacon tomato butter, about 2 tablespoons on each fillet.