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Tilapia with Tomatillos and Avocado Filled with Maque Choux


  • 1 1/4-1 1/2 pounds tilapia (4 fillets)

  • Coarse salt

  • Ground pepper

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin (eyeball it)

  • 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika (eyeball it)

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)

  • 1 lime, halved

  • 1/2 medium red onion, chopped

  • 1 jalapeño or serrano pepper, seeded and finely chopped

  • 2-3 large cloves garlic, finely chopped

  • 8-10 tomatillos, husks peeled and diced

  • 1/2 bottle pale beer

  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves (a palmful), plus a few sprigs for garnish

Maque Choux:

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)

  • 1/2 red onion, chopped

  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped

  • 1 small red bell pepper, seeded and chopped

  • 4 ears fresh corn on the cob, husked

  • A sprinkle of sugar

  • A dash of cayenne pepper

  • Salt

  • 2 tablespoons butter

  • 2 ripe avocados

  • 1 lime, juiced


Season fish with salt, pepper, cumin and paprika. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon EVOO, one turn of the pan. Heat an ovenproof serving plate in a warm oven. Sauté fish 3 minutes on each side or until opaque. Squeeze the juice of half a lime over the fish and carefully slide the fillets onto warm platter. Cover the fish to keep it warm. Return pan to heat and add remaining tablespoon of EVOO, one turn of the pan. Over medium-high heat, quickly sauté the red onion, jalapeño and the garlic. Sauté a minute or so, then add the diced tomatillos with seeds and juices. Season mixture with coarse salt and sauté the mixture of vegetables for 5 minutes.

Once you get your sauce working, put a second skillet hot over moderate heat for your maque choux. Add 1 tablespoon EVOO, one turn of the pan, chopped onion, jalapeño and red bell pepper. Sauté 2-3 minutes. Working on a plate to catch the milky juices, scrape corn off the cob. Break up the kernels and pour into the skillet. Combine corn with peppers and onions. Season with a sprinkle of sugar, a dash of cayenne pepper and salt. When mixture bubbles, reduce heat to simmer. Cut butter into pieces and stir into corn mixture. Allow mixture to simmer and cook until creamy, 5-7 minutes.

While corn is working, go back to your sauce for the fish. Add the beer, the juice of half a lime and cilantro to the pan. Simmer sauce 5 minutes longer, then spoon hot sauce down over the fish fillets. Garnish platter with a few extra sprigs of the cilantro.

Cut avocados in half lengthwise and remove pits. Squeeze lime juice over the avocados to keep them from browning and season them with a little coarse salt. Arrange on the serving plate.