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The Tilapias – A Simple Meal for Simple Peoples

Tilapia & Salad

Tilapia & Salad

Everybody is super busy, so I am giving you a good tip for a quick meal that features the fish called Tilapia. Could take as little as 20 to 30 minutes excluding shopping time to make a delicious meal best enjoyed while watching a movie on TCM or your favorite Showtime or AMC series.

Things you’ll need:

– Access to a market, I prefer the ones that sell organically produced produce, it just tastes better to me. Here in Washington, DC we have either Yes! Organic Market or MOM’s Organic Market. Mom’s is cheaper, that’s why they are in harder to reach areas like College Park or Rockville. Keep the overhead down. But the last couple of times I was there, it seems that they do not have any fresh fish or meats. One cool thing though is that Graham from the band Negative Approach helped to set most of their locations.

– A Refrigeration source of some sort or be ready to cook the fish immediately.

– A lemon.

– Vegetables that you typically like in salads.

– Cooking tray, foil, bowls to put it in when finished.

Okay, so now I will walk you through the process:

Put your oven on the “Bake” setting and put the temperature on 400 degrees.

If you bought packaged Tilapia (I buy the largest poundage possible), go ahead and remove that from the fridge and open it up. I rinse the fish with cold water and then dry it thoroughly. I don’t know anything about frozen fish, so you’re on your own there.

Maybe while you’re rinsing the fish, you can put some foil in a cooking tray.

Put the thoroughly dried Tilapias on the cooking tray on top of the foil.

Cut a lemon in half, squeeze out the juice, and put as much as you would like on the Tilapias.

Assuming your spice cabinet is near to where this is all happening, go ahead and spice it up.

I use freshly grounded pepper medley, Italian or Sicilian (found at Marshall’s) seasoning, Turmeric, and Cayenne.

When your oven hits the 400 degree mark, put the Tilapia tray in it, and set it for 12 minutes.

Now you have to act fast depending on what you like in your salad.

Mine is perhaps the most extensive, and I get it done in about 13 minutes.

I’m also making 3 bowls of salad. One for me, one for the wife, and one for the wife’s lunch the next day.

Assume the following is all organic.

Put greens in the bowls. Spinach, lettuces, arugula, spring mixes, it will all work.

Put some corn on top of the greens. Canned if it’s easier, or fresh if it’s available.

Chop up some red onion and put it in there.

Cut some grape tomatoes in half and add to salad.

Cucumber is next.

Carrot and Celery if you’d like.

Chop up a red pepper, lots of vitamin C right there.

Now go to the upper part of your fridge for the more personal delicacies.

Adding a chopped up barrel pickle adds great flavor.

If you have a market that has an olive bar, make sure you get a mixture of olives, and a nice mixture of pepper-dews.  Chop up all the available different colors of pepper-dews, so far I have only seen red, green, and orange. Also add kalamata and/or green olives if you like those.

A personal favorite and must for me is to add about 7 or 8 nicely sized pepperoncinis, but that is to my own tastes and addictions.

Your choice: Top it with freshly shaved parmesan, or feta, or goat cheese, or don’t, it’s up to you of course.

On top of all this you should add more freshly ground pepper medley, and more Italian/Sicilian seasoning.

By now the Tilapia has cooked, and you can put the whole piece right on top of your salad.

Then you can add some good olive oil, a cap and a half’s worth of apple cider vinegar, and a few jchuges (sic) of balsamic vinegar.

When you bring your bowl to your eating location, make sure you bring a smaller bowl to put your olive pits and pepperoncini stems in.

As always, be wary of any small bones that may still be in the fish.

In olden times, I enjoyed a nice glass of wine with this dish, but lately I have found that Yogi Tea “Calming” was an even better compliment.

If you should take it upon yourself to try this simple dish at home, please let me know how it went, and please let me know of any interesting variations.

As always, Enjoy!

P.S. If you are vegetarian or vegan and do not eat fish, then you can still use this method, but I suggest that you leave out the fish, and just have the salad. FYI, you can substitute a codpiece for the tilapia, but you will need to increase the baking time to 16 minutes since it’s a thicker fish.

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Going in the salad tonight with Tilapias.

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Big ass pepper from front yard

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The Thai Room is Under New Managment, and They’re Serving Smoked Ribs and Chicken, and a lot of Bourbon

From what I can tell, the Thai Room that used to be on Connecticut Avenue in NW DC up there where Nebraska Avenue crosses, closed up shop in 2005 after a 30 year run.  I think there’s some kind of ping pong pizza restaurant with an even better known locally famous sign there these days that lets free form jazz pick up combos make experimental noises in the back.

I moved to the Washington, DC area in 1991, first to Arlington, then finally helping to start up a group house in Mt. Pleasant in 1993 with some other musicians that only liked to play in odd time signatures. The Thai Room was just always there. I know I went there on at least one date, maybe two, and I can’t remember if there were many other Thai restaurants around at the time. Couldn’t tell you if the food was good or not. Not sure if my palate was advanced enough at the time, probably isn’t that advanced even now.

But I do remember liking two things:

– All the green plants they had in the windows

– And their sign

I am not sure where the plants ended up, and if they are still living healthy plant lives or not.

I hope they are.

But I know where the sign is.

It’s in my friend’s backyard.

The Thai Room sign lives on. Photo by Joseph P. McRedmond

The Thai Room sign lives on.
Photo by Joseph P. McRedmond

The new Thai Room is now located in the old Walter Reed area of Washington, DC and serves a seasonal prix fixe menu. Last time I was there I was offered deliciously smoked pork ribs, a green bean salad brought by another guest, and teeny tiny roasted potatoes. They have a strict BYOB policy, so I accompanied my meal with a 24 pack of Modelo Especial. Usually there is bourbon readily available, but the chef had finished it off two nights before, and finished all the Hornitos Tequila before I had arrived. Since the actual Thai Room Restaurant portion of the new site is only located outside, within the confines of a worn down fence that at times may catch fire from randomly placed candles, they have a smoking “at-will” policy, which is pretty nice (I almost wrote “sweet” here, but everyone knows I don’t actually talk that way). The new owners smoke more cigarettes than are usually available, and you may at a moment’s notice be sent out on a “ciggy run” to one of the many nearby liquor stores to make a transaction through bullet proof glass. One of the last times I visited this establishment, I was smoking on the upper deck waiting for an order of fish tacos with smoked jalapeno peppers, when I and all of the other guests were pelted by unripened pears tossed over the fence by neighborhood youths who immediately fled when I stood on my rocking chair and pointed directly at them with a look that said “you little mongrel pricks”.  Other nights I had enjoyed smoked chicken without incident. And I vaguely remember a special holiday dinner for St. Patrick’s one year that featured corned beef hash nicely done and accompanied with Jameson’s and those big bottles of Guinness Extra Stout.

Other pluses that make this joint favorable to me are:

– The availability of parking though it’s on a one way street

– The human jukebox who only plays 78 rpm records through one of those furniture pieces your grand pappy used to have

– The utilization of grown on the premises vegetables (tomatoes, lettuces, peppers, cucumbers)

– The homemade pickles

– The puppy who doesn’t bark and smells good.  Really good. The puppy in fact provided the after dinner entertainment the other night by leaping back and forth into the sprinkler.

The biggest plus for me is that if there is a queue for the single occupancy water closet sandwiched between two bedrooms , it is encouraged by the management that you piss in the garden.

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