Restaurateur Tim Aspel has a knack for knowing what guests want. His latest venture, Spike’s Fish House with locations in Laguna Niguel and Rancho Santa Margarita, offers dishes that showcase delectable grilled fish.From sliders and tacos, to bowls, wraps and fish plates, his dishes build vibrant flavors while keeping the focus on the delicious flavor of fresh seafood.
Watch Tim prepare his easy fish lettuce wraps and see his trick for separating the leaves. Here’s how to make the “less than 150 calories for $1.50” treat.
The fish has a clean fresh taste with plenty of crunch from the light breadcrumb coating.
The generous Iceberg lettuce cup is loaded with crisp tilapia, finely shredded cabbage, pico de gallo (diced tomato, onion, cilantro and cucumber) and Spike’s Sauce.
The sauce is a mixture of plain, low-fat Greek-style yogurt, smoked paprika, minced garlic, lemon juice and a little mayonnaise.
Spike’s Tilapia Panko-Style Lettuce Wraps
Yield: 3 lettuce wraps
1 large egg white
3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs, see cook’s notes
6- to 7-ounce tilapia fillet
1 tablespoon canola oil
3 lettuce cups, see cook’s notes
2/3 cup finely shredded red and green cabbage
3 tablespoons Spike Sauce (recipe included)
3 to 4 tablespoons Pico de Gallo, see cook’s notes
Garnish: lime wedges for optional juicing
1. Place egg white and panko in separate shallow bowls or pie plates. Dip both sides of fish in egg white, then panko. Heat oil on medium heat in nonstick skillet that is large enough to accommodate the fish. Cook fish on both sides, cooking long enough to nicely brown the crumbs and cook the interior. Fish should be opaque throughout. Cut fish into 3 portions. Cut each portion into 2 pieces.
2. Add 2 pieces of fish to a lettuce cup. Top with 2 tablespoons Spike’s sauce, some shredded cabbage, and a generous tablespoon of Pico de Gallo. Repeat to make 2 more lettuce wraps. Serve with lime wedges on the side.
Cook’s notes: Japanese-style breadcrumbs, known as panko, are coarser than traditional prepared dry breadcrumbs. They create a deliciously crunchy crust. Supermarkets often stock them both in the Asian specialty section and the breadcrumb section. The 3/4 cup measurement is probably more than you will use, but when breading it is helpful to have a generous amount to work with.
Easiest way to make lettuce cups: Cut off the bottom 1/3 of Iceberg lettuce, then hold the cut side of the remaining portion under running water. The surge of the water will help separate the leaves. Drain “cups” unside-down on paper towels.
To make Pico de Gallo, combine 1 cup diced Roma tomatoes, 1/4 cup peeled, diced hot house cucumber, 1/4 cup diced yellow onion, 1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro, 1 small clove garlic (minced), and 1/2 seeded and minced fresh jalapeno chili, plus salt and pepper to taste.
1 cup low-fat plain Greek-style yogurt
1/3 cup mayonnaise
Smoked paprika, to taste
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 large garlic clove, minced
Juice from grilled lemon, to taste, see cook’s notes
Cook’s notes: To grill lemon, heat barbecue grill or grill pan on stovetop. Cut lemon in half and place on heated grill until dark grill marks form. When cool enough to handle, squeeze juice.
1. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl.
Source: Tim Aspel, Spike’s Fish House, Laguna Niguel and Rancho Santa Margarita