It's a challenge to make a fish dish for four and stay under a $12 total - unless you use tilapia.
I thought this recipe from the new book Two Dudes, One Pan, originally designed for grouper, might work with any white fish, even thin fillets of tilapia. The browned butter and salty capers liven up this pedestrian fish, which cooks quickly.
If you can find it on sale, baby bok choy makes a nice accompaniment. Spray with an olive-oil cooking spray and grill for a few minutes on a grill pan.
Butter: 32 cents
Capers: 80 cents
Parsley: 5 cents
Baby bok choy: $1.50
From the pantry: salt, cooking spray
Note: Prices are calculated based on the amount of each ingredient used in the recipe.
fish with lemon-caper butter
four 6- to 8-ounce skinless fillets tilapia or other white fish
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon unsalted butter (divided use)
1/4 cup capers (rinsed if salt-packed; drained if brine-packed)
juice of 2 lemons
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Sprinkle all sides of the fish fillets with the salt. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a stainless-steel skillet over medium-high heat. Add the fish and sear until it is opaque halfway through, about 2 minutes for tilapia.
Add 2 more tablespoons butter to the skillet and, once it has melted, flip the fillets and sear on the second side until completely cooked through and the fillets slightly resist semi-firm pressure, another 2 to 3 minutes. (Note: If you need to cook the fish in batches to prevent crowding, wait until your first batch of fish is completely cooked before adding the second 2 tablespoons of butter for the next batch.)
Transfer fish to plates. Add capers to the hot skillet and let sizzle for 15 seconds. Add lemon juice, sprinkle with parsley, and stir to combine. Swirl in the last teaspoon of butter. Drizzle the lemon-caper butter over the fillets and serve.
Adapted from "Two Dudes, One Pan," by Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo
Per serving: : 335 calories, 45 grams protein, 17 grams fat, 9 grams saturated fat, 3 grams carbohydrate, 0 grams fiber, 130 milligrams cholesterol, 832 milligrams sodium