Crab-stuffed tilapia with asparagus and creamy curry sauce

Looking for Valentine's Day ideas for a romantic dinner for two? Stuffed tilapia with a creamy sauce is as eye-pleasing as it is delicious without too much fuss.

A Palatable Pastime
Delicious flaky fish with rich crab stuffing, tender-crisp asparagus and creamy curry sauce.

This fish recipe makes for an awesome presentation! It is wonderful for a romantic dinner or if you want to impress.

It is also not very difficult to make, even though you have to work with a couple different sections of the recipe. The stuffing and the sauce are stirred up, and of course, the sauce is heated to thicken. But other than that it really is very simple. I love to serve this with a long-grain wild rice blend pilaf.

The whole thing feels very retro to me – back when I had never heard of tilapia or swai and I always made this kind of thing with sole fillets. But sole seems harder to find to find these days. I remember reading about tilapia being farmed in south Florida before hurricane Andrew came through there in 1992. The hurricane washed many of the tilapia into the Everglades where they prospered in a vicious way, displacing other wildlife. I am really not quite sure if that was ever brought under control down there.

But in any case, tilapia is very economical and is a nice, tender, flaky white fish good for many recipes. And it makes for a perfect romantic dinner where the price really doesn’t have to be mentioned!

I did make the sauce in this with heavy cream, which gives it a definite mouth feel. You can use the lighter half-and-half but I don’t really recommend using milk, unless it is evaporated (it might have a little tinny taste, but evaporated milk gives a more velvety texture than plain milk). You can choose what you like to use depending on your preferences.

Crab-stuffed tilapia with asparagus and creamy curry sauce
Serves 2

8 ounces thin tilapia, swai or flounder fillets

12 ounces fresh asparagus spears, ends trimmed

Salt and black pepper

2 teaspoons olive oil

2 tablespoons toasted sliced almonds, to garnish (optional)

Lemon slices, to garnish (optional)

For the sauce:

2 tablespoons butter

8 ounces heavy cream or half and half (may also use evaporated milk)

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 tablespoon mild curry powder

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

For the stuffing:

6 ounces flaked crab meat (any cartilage picked out)

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1-2 teaspoons snipped chives

Salt and black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Rinse fish fillets and pat dry; arrange on a baking sheet, dark side down.

3. On a separate pan, toss asparagus with salt, pepper, and oil and lay in a single layer on a baking sheet.

4. Prepare stuffing by mixing together the flaked crab, mayo, lemon juice, salt, pepper and chives.

5. Divide mixture among fish and fold half of the fillet over the top to sandwich the stuffing.

6. Place the fish in the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes.

7. While fish is baking, whisk together the heavy cream with the cornstarch.

8. Melt butter in a small saucepan and add the cream (with cornstarch), curry powder, and lemon juice.

9. Whisk while cooking over low heat until thickened, 5-10 minutes; keep warm.

10. After fish has cooked for 12 minutes or so, add the pan of asparagus to the oven as well and bake for another 12 minutes.

11. Test asparagus and fish to see if asparagus is as done as you like it (I like mine at about 12 minutes which is still slightly crisp, but tender) and check the fish to see if it flakes with a fork.

12. When both are done, lay asparagus across the serving plate and top with cooked fish fillets, then spoon sauce over all.

13. Garnish with toasted almonds and lemon slices, if desired.

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