This recipe is simply a modern, dressed up version, of southern fish & grits. Tilapia can be substituted with any firm, yet flaky, white fish. The crunchy fish is paired with creamy, manchego cheesy grits and then, completely dressed with a warm crab salsa.
Combine cornmeal, garlic powder, salt & pepper. Dredge tilapia fillets in cornmeal and shake off excess. Heat olive oil in a skillet to approximately 350 degrees. Sprinkle a pinch of cornmeal into the oil. If it's hot enough, the cornmeal will sizzle. Fry tilapia fillets until golden brown. Flip only once. Remove from heat.
Heat water, garlic & salt to boiling. Whisk in grits and reduce heat to medium low. Cook grits for 5 minutes. As they cook, they will thicken. Add milk in small amounts while whisking to prevent sticking. In last minute of cooking, whisk in cheese and remaining milk. Remove from heat and allow to thicken.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add peppers, onions, and garlic. Saute until onions are translucent. Do not burn. Add tomatoes, bay leaves, and crab meat. Use spoon/spatula to break up crab meat. Reduce heat and cook until thick...approximately 10 minutes.