I used to always immediately think of McDonald’s when anyone mentioned fish sandwiches. I’ve actually never had a Filet-O-Fish, but they were my brother’s favorite when we were lucky enough to stop by the Golden Arches growing up, and I have fond memories of him inhaling a couple while I was munching on my Chicken McNuggets. So in my mind, fish sandwich = boring fried fish on a bun. But, this all changed after I ordered a blackened tilapia sandwich with cilantro lime mayo on a whim at the Calypso Café in Chicago. Wow, now my mouth actually waters thinking about fish sandwiches because their version was so flavorful and flakey! I’ve raved about the Calypso Café before – they inspired me to make these unique plantain nachos and are one of the many restaurants I really miss now that we’re in Boston. I bought some tilapia recently and finally decided to try making my own version of this favorite at home.
I mixed a bunch of spices together to coat my tilapia fillets and then whipped up an avocado spread since I prefer it to mayo. I topped my sandwiches with some perfect summer tomato slices too, but my little twist is that I also piled on some crispy shredded plantains! They provided a nice crunch and yes, I know it’s a pain to fry things, but they really take this sandwich to a whole new level and are worth stinking up your kitchen to enjoy. I need to make these for my brother!
Blackened Tilapia Sandwiches with Avocado Spread and Crispy Plantains
Canola oil for frying
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 medium green plantain, peeled and shredded with a coarse cheese grater
1 avocado, halved, pitted, peeled, and mashed
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground thyme
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
3/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tilapia fillets
1 tablespoon canola oil
4 buns, split
2 tomatoes, sliced
To make the crispy plantains, heat vegetable oil to 350˚F in a fryer. Mix flour and salt in a large bowl; add shredded plantains and toss until well coated with the flour mixture. Remove any extra flour from the bowl, if needed. Place flour-coasted shredded plantains in the oil and fry until light golden brown, about 2 minutes, working in batches as needed. Remove crispy plantains with a slotted spoon and place on a plate lined with paper towels to drain.
To make the avocado spread, mix the mashed avocados, lime juice, cilantro and salt in a medium bowl until smooth.
To make the blackened tilapia, place the thyme, cayenne pepper, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a small bowl and mix well. Massage the spice mixture evenly onto both sides of the fillets. Heat the canola oil over medium high heat in a large nonstick skillet and cook fillets on 3 minutes per side, or until cooked through. Cut fillets as needed to fit the buns (I cut ours in half and put both pieces on one bun).
To assemble the sandwiches, spread the avocado spread on the cut sides of the bottom buns. Place a tilapia fillet on top, followed by a few tomato slices and a mound of crispy plantains. Add bun tops and serve. Makes 4 sandwiches.
Nutrition: 636 calories, 27.6g fat, 6.9g fiber, 33.9g protein per sandwich
Cost: $2.65 per sandwich