A certain special friend, who shall remain nameless, turns her nose up at tilapia as the lowest fish on the pescatarian totem pole. Something about tilapia being a cheap bottom-feeder. 🙂
Tilapia are indeed cheap, but in my opinion, are a great vehicle for strongly flavored dishes due to their clean taste. I will note that I’ve read that farm-raised tilapia can be unhealthy due to the amount of corn the fish are fed, so be mindful when you are shopping. When handled properly, this fish is not mealy or fishy, but instead a quick and yummy weeknight meal option.
Grant typically fries tilapia for fish tacos and it’s one of my favorite dishes. But I need something beyond fried. Then my friend Merissa wrote me about a delicious tilapia curry she had recently made. The resulting recipe is all her.
A wonderful and rather light curry simmers on your stove and is poured over tilapia fillets perfectly broiled in toasted sesame oil. It filled our house with wonderful smells and the taste met our expectations.
Sesame-Broiled Tilapia with Coconut Red Curry
- 2 teaspoons dark sesame oil, divided
- 2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
- 1 cup chopped green onions
- 1 teaspoon curry powder
- 2 teaspoons red curry paste
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 4 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
- 1 (14-ounce) can light coconut milk
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
- 4 (6-ounce) tilapia fillets (we used 2)
- Cooking spray
- 3 cups hot cooked jasmine rice
- 4 lime wedges
Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add ginger and garlic; cook 1 minute. Add pepper and onions; cook 1 minute. Stir in curry powder, curry paste, and cumin; cook 1 minute. Add soy sauce, sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and coconut milk; bring to a simmer (do not boil). Remove from heat; stir in cilantro.
Brush fish with 1 teaspoon oil; sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Place fish on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Broil 7 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Serve fish with sauce, rice, and lime wedges.
When I made this, I packed it into a picnic basket for a picnic at Reynolda Park. What a great departure from the typical fried-chicken picnic fare. That curry is so delicious, I could drink it with a straw!
Enjoy, friends! xoxo
My favorite place to buy seafood is Costco. I know it sounds corporate, but it really is a frugal gal’s best friend. (Although I recently went to an Asian market, where I opened a random cooler to find all these HUGE prawns from the coast for $5 per pound … so just take what you can get.)
I always go to Costco when I know I need good fish, because it is exactly half as much as Whole Foods for comparable product. Recently, I went for 2 lbs. of mussels. Instead, I left with 5 pounds of fresh mussels for $10. I know they were fresh because only a couple didn’t open after cooking (dead).
After soaking them in water sprinkled with a little flour (so they will spit out the grit), these beauties performed beautifully on one pretty weekend. First, I made the following coconut curry dish with half. Next, I made them in a simple garlic-thyme-white wine broth. Each played well with the mussels’ delicate flavor.
This recipe made a wonderful Saturday lunch with crusty Costco bread and a glass of crisp wine.
From Simply Recipes.
Coconut Curry Mussels
Ingredients: (serves 4)
- 2 lbs mussels, cleaned and debearded (pull those little hairs on the side out!)
- 1 T canola oil
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 1 Thai chili, finely chopped (or pinch chili flakes)
- 3 tsp fresh ginger, minced
- 1 1/2 tablespoons green curry paste (which has kaffir lime leaves in it, yum!)
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
- 1 can of coconut milk (13.5 fl. oz.)
- Pinch of salt
- 1 stalk of lemongrass, chopped into four pieces and smashed
- Chopped cilantro
- Lime wedges
Place mussels in a bowl of cold water with a sprinkling of flour, so the mussels will spit out any sand or mud. Let them sit for 10 minutes. Drain and repeat. Debeard the mussels, pulling out their byssal threads (aka: their “beards”) and place them in a bowl of cold water until ready to use.
Heat the oil in a pan and add the onion and stir for a few minutes until they become soft and slightly translucent. Add the chilies, ginger, and curry paste and stir for a minute until fragrant.
Add the chicken broth and reduce by half. Add the coconut milk, salt, lemongrass and bring to a boil. Add the mussels, reduce heat to medium and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Cook for 6-7 minutes until the mussels open. Discard any that are closed as these were dead before cooking. Spoon mussels into bowls and pour over broth. Garnish with chopped cilantro and juice from lime wedges.
You are guaranteed to love this – it’s so light and fresh, you feel full but not stuffed. I would say it’s rather elegant, too, if you have someone to impress…
Enjoy, friends! xoxo