On the weekends, my husband and I love to take a stroll down the streets of SoHo in New York City. We begin by visiting our old neighborhood of Tribeca, and walking up along Broadway in the middle of all the craziness. While we try to avoid Chinatown, we have realized it is virtually impossible and we just soak in all in.

This weekend I was on a mission to find banana leaves to make Ayacas (the recipe will be coming soon, I promise!) as well as finding hot peppers – ajies – to make the hot sauce I spoke about in my first posting on T’s Tasty Bits. If there is anything you ever need, you can always count on Chinatown as your source. My husband spotted a Thai and Indonesian Grocery store on Bayard, the same street where the famouse Chinatown Ice Cream Factory is, and we decided to walk in and check out the goods. To my delight, the store had frozen banana leaves and frozen fresh chili peppers. The owner was also pushing a sale of fishcakes, which we decided to buy because we didn’t feel like dealing with the pitch – what a persistant man!

We kept walking down Chinatown and decided to get some fish – tilapia was the winner. What I love about Tilapia is that it doesn’t have as many tiny bones as a red snapper does. With our degutted and clean 2-pound fish in hand, we headed home. As we were walking and talking, the fish – which mind you was already DEAD – starting flapping around, scaring the living daylights out of us! I guess there was some “memory” left in that fish. My husband was carrying the fish, and the look on his face when this happened was priceless – his eyes popped out and his face turned ghostly white!

Once home, we aimed at keeping the preparation for the tilapia simple. We seasoned the inside and outside of the tilapia with olive oil, fresh ground pepper and sea salt. Then, we stuffed the fish with sprigs of cilantro, flat-leaf parsley, lemon slices and two hot chili peppers, deseeded and deveined. Then, we seared it on a grill pan:

Once seared on both sides, we put it in the oven at 350F for about 15 minutes, until the fish was firm and meat wasn’t translucid, a.k.a., raw.

I whipped up a greek-inspired salad using 1 cucumber, 1 zucchini, half a pint of grape tomatoes, and 1/4 cup of halved kalamata olives. I added chopped parsley and chopped cilantro to tie in the ingredients of the tilapia. For the dressing, we kept it simple with just olive oil and red wine vinegar, and added feta cheese: