Baked tilapia with coconut curry

How delicious does this look? Trust me, it's ten times better than it looks!

As you can tell, I’m a really, really big fan of fish. I love it, and for good reason: it’s healthy, it’s delicious, and there are so many things you can do with it. That being said, I have another fish post for you, and I really think you’re going to adore this one: flaky, moist fish, nestled inside a rich, flavorful coconut curry sauce. I served mine up with some delightful vegetables mixed in to keep it healthy and filling.

Now, before I go any further, I’d like to address tilapia. What is it? Where does it come from? Why does my dad hate it so? Things like that. So, here we are:

Tilapia isn’t one kind of fish, like red snapper or yellowfin tuna. In fact, it’s a lot like tuna or salmon in that a lot of different species of fish fall into the category. Most of the time, though, tilapia is never labeled as anything but “tilapia.” Tilapia, fish of the cichlid family, can be found all over the world, but for all intents and purposes, unless otherwise stated, assume your tilapia comes from China.

Tilapia are notably low in mercury, and are low fat, low calorie, and extremely high in protein. Even better? They’re cheap. Cheap is good for college students!

That being said, a lot of people have a shared memory that dates back to who knows when, which alerts them that tilapia tastes…muddy. Because wild tilapia are bottom-feeding fish, they do indeed have a muddy aftertaste. Farmed tilapia, however, is totally different: it has a cleaner, more cod-like flavor to it. So, for those of you with reservations about tilapia, fear not! It is tasty!

Now, onto greater and tastier things. This recipe, for example. I’d consider it…very Thai-inspired. It’s creamy, smooth and spiced, with hints of coconut and lime. What more could you want in a supper? Serve it over rice for something beautiful, delicious and easy. M has declared that she doesn’t need the lime to make her love the curry, and so she eats hers without. I absolutely adore the very Asian-tropics coconut-lime flavor, so I go nuts with the limes.

This recipe is SO good. I hardly ever condone using caps for emphasis. That’s how good this curry is!

Tilapia with Coconut-Lime Curry 

2 tilapia fillets (approx 3-4 oz apiece), cut into 1/2×1 inch chunks

4 curry blocks (Vermont or Golden House)

1/2 crown of broccoli, cut into small florets

1-2 carrots, cut into coins

1/3 yellow onion, sliced

4 cloves garlic, sliced

1/2 red bell pepper (optional)

1/3 can coconut milk

5 cups fish stock

curry powder, cayenne pepper, garlic powder and paprika to taste

cumin to taste (optional)

1/2 lime, cut into small wedges

So, for starters, you can do this recipe two ways: you can brown all the vegetables to start with, or you can just dump everything in and go. If you’re in a hurry, go with the latter. If not, I’d highly advise going with the browning method. It makes everything tastier and more beautiful in the long run. This curry will, however, be absolutely delectable with the quick method too. If you’re going the recommended route, read on. If you’re doing curry in a hurry, though, skip to the third paragraph.

Set a medium to large pot on medium-high and drizzle in a little garlic oil if you have it, butter if you don’t. Let it melt/bubble, then add in the carrots. Try to keep them all in a single layer, so they get evenly browned. When they’re all golden-brown and beautiful on one side, flip as best you can to the other (don’t sweat it if you only get half flipped.) Brown this side, then transfer the carrots out of the pan. Repeat the process with the garlic and onion, as well as bell peppers, if you’re using them. Transfer everything out of the pan and set it to medium.

Once all of this is done, add in the fish stock and broccoli bits. You can cut them small or large, per your preference, but we prefer them large enough to keep a good bite. Simmer the broccoli for about two minutes, then add the curry blocks, curry powder, cayenne, garlic powder, cumin and paprika. Place the carrots, broccoli, onion and bell pepper back in the pot, and stir. Bring it to a simmer and keep it there, stirring every so often to keep anything from sticking to the bottom.

When the curry blocks have melted and the curry begins to thicken, bring the heat slightly higher. We want thick, rich curry here. Allow it to simmer for another few minutes until it has thickened further, then add half the coconut milk and all the fish.

Taste frequently…you want to personalize the curry to your tastes. If you like it thinner, add more stock or coconut milk. If you want it more coconut-y, add more of the milk. It all depends on your tastes.

Cook, stirring infrequently, for about six minutes, or until the fish is flaky when squeezed between your fingers. Transfer it all to a bowl and serve immediately, with lime wedges.

Served with white or brown rice, this makes for a very filling, surprisingly hearty meal. It’s light and summery in flavor, though, which makes it quite pleasing.

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2 Comments

Filed under Ethnic, Seasonal, Winter

2 responses to “Baked tilapia with coconut curry

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