Chipotle Seared Tilapia with Homemade Pico de Gallo

Morita chiles are red, fully mature Chipotles. This gives them a unique, medium – hot smokey flavor which is popular in many Southwestern dishes. These can be added to sauces (including Mole) to add smokey flavor and maintain the red color of the sauces. These peppers are about 2-4 inches in length, 1 inch in width, and have a deep brick reddish brown color. The word Chipotle translated to smoked chile. Consider the Chipotle a 6.5 on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the hottest). Scoville heat units 7,000-25,000.

Suggested Use:
Use Morita in enchilada sauces, chili, stews, barbecue ribs, and corn bread. Their smoky quality combines well with poultry, meats and fall squash.

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Pico De Gallo:
2 cups tomatoes, chopped and seeded
1/4 cup onion, minced
1 medium jalapeno, chopped (I like to leave in some of the seeds for extra heat)
2 cloves garlic, minced
juice of 1 lime
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

4 tilapia fillets (about 6 oz each)
2 tsp chipotle powder (grind dried chile in coffee grinder till a fine powder)
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp butter
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese, Monterey Jack or a combination


For the pico de gallo, add all ingredients in a medium bowl and mix well. Let sit for at least an hour to allow the flavors to meld together.

Pat tilapia fillets dry with a paper towel. Sprinkle both sides with chipotle powder, salt and pepper. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Swirl melted butter to coat the bottom of the pan. Add tilapia and cook about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes per side, or until fish is golden brown and flakes easily with a fork.

Remove tilapia from pan and sprinkle with shredded cheese. Top with several spoonfuls of pico de gallo and serve immediately.