Introducing our new series, Hooked: Newlyweds in the Kitchen, where Boston-based couple Kim Watson Ito and Justin Ito-Adler chronicle their love of seafood and a whole lot of quarantine cooking. Follow their adventures here and on Instagram and Facebook at #hookedonwulfs
Our next deep dive into the world of seafood is a big one. As a couple, we’ve taken on kampachi collars, eel, monkfish liver — but we had never expected Wulf’s would send the one item to make Justin flinch. Enter… tilapia. Yes, tilapia. The friendly fish found on seafood menus across the globe. This is what finally breaks him. So, while I begin to quietly question my marriage, let’s all put on a brave face for Justin as he heroically gets to slicing.
Justin: I have to say, I’m skeptical. Every time I have eaten tilapia, I have regretted the decision. I have a distinct memory of saying: “It’s in a taco, could it really be that bad?” And yep, it was that bad. This fish does look alright in the package, but we’ll see. We’ve got two pretty decent sized filets and great yield. Skinless, boneless and only a tiny bit of trimming needed to get to a workable product. Nice meaty texture.
Kim: I don’t get what you have against this fish. The white and purple colors are beautiful together, and it’s found on menus everywhere. Is that it? Because it’s found on menus everywhere? Wow.
Round 1: RAW
Justin: Sliced it pretty thin. Not the most flavorful fish I have ever eaten, but also not fishy or mealy at all. The biggest takeaway for me is the texture. Most of the tilapia I have had just falls apart like someone left it on the dock too long. This is somewhere between cod and monkfish. Really dense and tight. Definitely higher quality than the supermarket variety. Still not a fish I would just slice and eat, but not the worst thing I’ve had.
Kim: This is definitely not a fish to slice and eat. If I thought Loch Duart was just a vehicle for soy and wasabi, it was only because I hadn’t met raw tilapia.
Round 2: DRESSED (Soy, Salt, Lemon & Wasabi)
Justin: This was actually pretty good. It also tastes familiar. A little research showed that it is sold in Japanese cuisine as “izumidai” and often labeled as snapper. I’m pretty sure every time I have had snapper in a mid-range sushi joint it has been this. Holds seasoning really well. Wish I had sliced it a tiny bit thinner even though I already sliced it thinner than I would slice tuna or salmon.
Kim: This makes for a beautiful plate and a really bland taste. I think I’ve finally discovered a fish that has to be better cooked.
Round 3: COOKED (“Blackened”)
Justin: Went with a super simple blackening spice of salt, black pepper, paprika, cumin, coriander, cayenne, garlic powder, onion powder and a pinch of oregano. Would have added thyme if we had it. Big squeeze of lemon and a pinch of Maldon to finish. Had this on rice and in a taco and both were great.
Kim: This fish was made for fish tacos. It’s light and flaky and absorbs Chili Garlic Cholula like a champ. 10/10. *Chefs kiss*
Justin: I ate raw tilapia and I didn’t die! I still won’t be rushing to the supermarket for a giant bag of frozen tilapia, but I would definitely add this to our Wulf’s order again. At about 95% yield, this was also a great value. Normally when eating raw fish, we split a pound and are reaching for a box of Cheez-It’s an hour later. The fact that this made (almost) two full meals says something. Blackened was definitely the winner for me.
Kim: I’m with you, Jito. And I commend your bravery. This isn’t my favorite sushi fish, but I am happy to report that I’ve found a cooked fish that I actually like. Thank you for slicing it and cooking it for me while I definitely wasn’t side-eyeing you from the couch.