Never have I experienced such immediate success with a fish dish in my house than with this tortilla-crusted tilapia with Sriracha sauce. Seconds were requested. It was also requested later the same week.
This is such a good example of how when you match a food that kids like (tortilla chips) with a food that needs a bit of support (fish), sometimes brilliant things happen.
The birth of this dish was just a bag of tortilla chips that had been pummeled a bit (and held more broken bits than whole chips). I decided to keep going and pulverize them in the food processor, and then I decided to use them to coat some tilapia. And then I served it up with Sriracha mayo, and the case of "the fish dish that everyone loves" was closed.
I have to confess I was dubious about this recipe. I'm a little scared of breading and frying fish, and the recipe just seemed too simple: Just tortilla chips, pepper, and eggs? Really?
Well, I was wrong, and I should have known better than to doubt Katie's good taste in recipes. This was literally a 10-minute recipe, after the mayo was finished. I crushed the chips, dipped the fish, and then fried. So easy, and incredibly tasty! The corn chips added a salty, toasty dimension to the otherwise bland fish.
The one note I would add is that the cooking time could be much shorter if your fish fillets, like mine, are quite small. I only needed to cook each for about 3 minutes on each side.
This was such an easy and tasty dinner — it helped me conquer my fears of frying fish. — Faith
Tortilla-Crusted Tilapia with Sriracha Sauce
Freshly ground pepper to taste
For the Sriracha mayo:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
2 scallions, white and green parts, finely minced
2 teaspoons Sriracha sauce, or more or less to taste
1/2 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon fresh lemon or lime juice
Kosher or coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
To make the mayo: In a small bowl, mix all of the ingredients together. This can be made up to four days ahead and stored covered in the refrigerator.
To make the fish: Place the chips in a food processor and pulse until they are finely crushed, but not ground to a powder; you still want a bit of texture. You can also place them in a large sturdy zip-top bag and use either a rolling pin, a bottle of wine, or some other heavy item to gently whack away at the bag until the tortillas are well-crushed.
Cut each fillet vertically down the middle (you will see a dividing line). Heat half the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. In a wide shallow bowl, beat the eggs with the pepper. In another wide shallow bowl, place the tortilla crumbs.
Dredge each filet — starting with the larger, thicker halves — in the egg mixture, making sure each piece is completely coated. Then dredge in the tortilla crumbs, making sure each piece is well-coated.
When the oil is hot, add the four thicker fillets and cook until the outside is golden-brown and the fish is cooked throughout, adjusting the heat as necessary, 4 to 5 minutes on each side. Transfer them to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.
Heat the remaining oil and cook the smaller fillets, which will probably cook slightly faster than the thicker fillets. Drain those on paper towels as well.
Serve hot with the Sriracha mayo.