The beautiful thing about fish is that it rarely takes long to make—you can cook fillets on the stove and have them ready in a jiff. And that exactly what’s happening here: tilapia is coated in a crispy panko crust and pan-fried to a beautiful golden brown. Add some asparagus on the side and a few buttered ciabatta toasts and presto! You’ve got one seriously tasty catch of the day.
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Wash and dry all produce. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Trim and discard bottom woody ends from asparagus. Halve lemon; cut one half into wedges. Finely chop chives.
In a small bowl, stir together sour cream, 1 TBSP chives, and a squeeze of lemon. Season with salt, pepper, and more lemon (to taste). Set aside half for brushing the fish and half for serving.
Toss asparagus with a drizzle of oil on a baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper. Bake in oven until tender and lightly crisped, 10-12 minutes. Meanwhile, place panko in a shallow dish or plate and season with salt and pepper.
Pat tilapia dry with a paper towel and season all over with salt and pepper. Brush all over with half the sauce. Dip one fillet in panko mixture, coating all over and pressing to adhere. Repeat with other fillet. Heat a large drizzle of oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add tilapia and cook until flesh is opaque and crust is golden brown, 4-6 minutes per side. (TIP: Lower heat if crumbs brown too quickly.)
While fish cooks, place 2 TBSP butter and 1 TBSP chives in a small bowl. Microwave until melted, about 30 seconds. Split ciabattas in half and brush cut sides with butter mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Place on another baking sheet and toast in oven until golden brown, about 5 minutes (you can place them on the same sheet as the asparagus, if there’s room).
Cut toasts into triangles. Divide between plates along with tilapia and asparagus. Drizzle tilapia with remaining sauce. Serve with any remaining lemon on the side for squeezing over.