Tangerine Salsa, Two Ways

Wherever I am these days - whether it's Beijing, San Francisco, or Tampa - I am surrounded by tangerines and clementines. (The latter is possibly better known in California as Cutiesยฎ.) These in-season cousins of the orange make excellent snacks, especially when you're trying to fight off the seasonal cold. And they're CHEAP. At a Tampa-area supermarket I found a 10-tangerines-for-$1 deal, rivaling Chinese prices.

After eating about 200 tangerines this season, I decided to make tangerine salsa for Christmas Eve hors d'oeuvres. This salsa requires few ingredients and is equally tangy, salty, sweet, and hot. I made a lot yesterday, and can serve it straight out of the fridge tomorrow with a few chips, a precious time-saver considering I have other appetizer, sides, and a big ol' turkey to contend with.ย 

Another way to use this salsa is to bake fish with it. I bought some tilapia fillets, rubbed them with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and covered them with tangerine salsa. If you have the salsa already prepared, dinner is merely 10 minutes away.

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Tangerine Salsa

Makes about 4 cups of salsa; feel free to halve recipe

1 tablespoon olive oil 1/2 large red onion, or 1 small red onion, finely chopped 6 ripe roma tomatoes, chopped 4 to 5 tangerines, peeled, segmented, and chopped 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice 1/2 tablespoon hot sauce, plus more to taste 1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste

Heat oil in a medium-sized pan over medium heat. Cook onions until just caramelized, then add tomatoes and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.

In a large bowl, mix together cooked tomatoes and onions with tangerines. Stir in lime juice, 1/2 tablespoon hot sauce, and 1 teaspoon salt. Adjust flavorings to suit your taste. Serve immediately with chips, or refrigerate for up to 3 days.

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Tilapia with Tangerine Salsa

Serves 4

1 1/2 pounds tilapia fillets 2 tablespoons olive oil Salt and pepper 1 1/2 cups tangerine salsa (see above)

Cilantro sprigs for garnish

Preheat oven to 350ยฐ. Place tilapia fillets in a glass baking dish and rub with olive oil, salt and pepper. Cover fillets with salsa. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Garnish with cilantro sprigs and serve immediately with rice or vegetables.