Category Archives: Fish

Crispy Tilapia in Curry Sauce

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Crispy Tilapia in Curry Sauce

This one is DEFINITELY going on the regular rotation at our house.

Do you see this deliciousness?

Crispy fried tilapia with a sweet and spicy coconut-curry sauce on a bed of fluffy jasmine rice.

Oh.

My.

Heavens.

Crispy Tilapia in Curry Sauce from If Looks Could Kale food blog.

See this Pin on Pinterest!

Have I already told you about my tilapia obsession? I haven’t?

Let me count the ways I love tilapia:

  1. It’s abundant. I don’t think I’ve ever had trouble finding tilapia in a grocery store. You may not think this is a big deal,  but to me it really is. Doesn’t it drive you nuts when you have EVERYTHING you need for a meal in your cart but come to find out that the store doesn’t have some crucial ingredient? Granted, some of you may say that tilapia is easily substituted because white fish is white fish is white fish, but I disagree. Tilapia is not only white fish,  (wait for it)…
  2. It’s cheap. Mega-cheap. My mom is always telling me that back in “the day,” fish was very inexpensive and was considered a “working man’s food.” Of course as people started buying more and more of it (because it was cheap), the price has inflated over the years. I’m so glad I took those graduate-level economics classes so I could gain a basic grasp of supply and demand. While “fresh” tilapia can certainly set you back a pretty penny if you’re buying out of the fish case at a Whole Foods, I’ll let you in on a little secret… (wait for it)…
  3. It’s freezer-friendly. Aren’t we all a little obsessed with freezing things lately? It seems like 90% of the recipes I see re-pinned over and over again are either crockpot recipes or freezer recipes. I buy four-pound bags of frozen fillets at my local Fred Meyer (Kroger) for about $10. Each fillet is about 4 oz, which means that for about $10 the husband and I can each eat four fish dinners (yay, math!). Other than being incredibly cheap, frozen tilapia provides me an extra advantage in the kitchen…
  4. It’s quick to thaw, and quick to cook! *Technically* I don’t think the food-governing-lords recommend thawing fish any other way than overnight in a fridge (seriously, who has the foresight for that?), but I like to just toss mine in the sink, cover it in room temperature water, and let the magic happen. I’ve been using this method for years and have never had any issues. It thaws in about 5-10 minutes, which means I can have absolutely NOTHING planned for dinner, then 10 minutes later I am cooking away.

Which brings us to today’s special presentation of Crispy Tilapia in Curry Sauce. This meal rocks my world in so many ways.

Crispy Tilapia in Curry Sauce from If Looks Could Kale food blog.

Let’s make another list, shall we?

  1. Tilapia (see above).
  2. Thai Food (duh).
  3. Under 30 minutes.
  4. Low-Calorie.
  5. Delicious.
  6. Every ingredient comes from either the freezer or the pantry. Which means I can put absolutely no forethought into making it. <— This is KEY.

Ready for the magic?

Let’s begin.

Makes: 4 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 4 (4 oz) tilapia fillets
  • 2/3 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. wok oil (grapeseed or vegetable oil work great, too)
  • 1 (14oz) can light coconut milk
  • 2 Tbsp. panang curry paste (or any red curry paste)
  • 1/4 c. water
  • 1 Tbsp. palm sugar (or brown sugar)
  • 2 Tbsp. fish sauce
  • 2-4 whole wild lime leaves
  • Jasmine rice, cilantro and lime wedges for serving

Directions:

  1. Pat each of the fish fillets dry with a paper towel, then cut into quarters. Stir together the flour and pepper in a pie plate or shallow dish. Place the fish pieces into the pie plate a few at a time and coat them with the flour mixture. Shake off any excess flour and set aside.
  2. Heat the wok or vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, lay half of the fish pieces to the pan in a single layer. Cook for 1-2 minutes per side, until crisp and brown. The fish doesn’t need to be cooked all the way through at this point because it is going to simmer later on. Once crisp, remove from pan and set aside. Repeat this process with the remaining half of the fish pieces.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium and wipe out any excess oil in the pan, then add half a can of coconut milk. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the coconut milk is hot and foamy. Add in the curry paste and stir for about 2 minutes to work it into the coconut milk, using the back of a wooden spoon to break up any large pieces.
  4. Add the rest of the coconut milk, as well as the water, sugar, fish sauce, and lime leaves (if using). Stir for one minute, then return the fish pieces to the pan. Spoon the curry sauce over the top of the fish. Reduce the heat to low and let simmer for 10-12 minutes, or until fish has cooked through. Discard lime leaves.
  5. Garnish with cilantro, and serve on a bed of jasmine rice with lime wedges for squeezing.

Crispy Tilapia in Curry Sauce from If Looks Could Kale food blog.

See this Pin on Pinterest!

 

Nutrition (includes fish and sauce):

275 calories, 14 g. fat, 23 g. protein, 15 g. carbs, 2 g. fiber. WW PointsPlus: 7

Moqueca (Brazilian Fish Stew)

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Moqueca (Brazilian Fish Stew)

I mentioned in my previous Brazilian Mojito post that the husband and I honeymooned in Brazil. We had such an incredible time in Rio de Janeiro, but my favorite part of our trip was when we ventured a few hours north to the beaches of Buzios. We stayed in this beautiful little boutique hotel called “casas brancas,” which translates to “white houses.” These pictures show the door to our room – it felt perfectly tropical.

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In the morning we would wake up and walk out onto the most beautiful balcony with a truly incredible view of the bay.

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Here’s the husband checking out the boats early in the morning. Look how clear that water is!

On our second morning there we decided to rent a boat for the day and go check out some of the coves and beaches. This really lovely local couple took us out on their boat and told us all about the history of the town and beaches, and made us some lovely Caipirinhas to sip as we cruised around.

braz4The water was so incredibly warm, clear, and blue – we snorkeled around and saw all sorts of amazing plants and creatures. We laid out on the beach, had a few more cocktails, then headed back towards town to check out a restaurant we had heard of which was famous for Moqueca.

braz5Moqueca is a Brazilian specialty – fish stew. In the picture above it is the one on the right. It has a rich, salty broth, a robust tomato presence, and melt-in-your-mouth pieces of flaky, buttery white fish.

This past weekend I got a wild hair and decided to make a batch for the husband as an ode to our incredible honeymoon. Seriously, you guys – this was delicious! When we ordered the Moqueca in Brazil I didn’t think I was going to like it that much. I’ve really been exploring different tastes and cuisines lately and I’m so glad that this dish was one of them! Give it a shot, it’s totally scrumptious.

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While this dish is full of complex flavor profiles, it is very simple to make and takes very little active time. The fish needs to marinate for three hours in the fridge, so making this on a weekend may be your best bet. Conversely, you could put the fish in the fridge to marinate before you leave for work, then come home and prepare the rest of the Moqueca.

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I happened to have a bunch of tilapia on hand, but you could use any firm white fish. Snapper, sea bass, or grouper would be especially delicious!

Here’s how I made it:

Makes: 4 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped, divided
  • 1 green onion (white and green parts), chopped, divided
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and minced, divided
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced, divided
  • 6 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • 4 Tbsp. chopped cilantro, divided
  • 1 1/4 lbs. firm white fish, cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 1/2 c.  freshly chopped green bell pepper
  • 1/3 c. freshly chopped yellow bell pepper
  • 1 1/2 c. fat free, low-sodium chicken  broth
  • 1 c. light coconut milk
  • 2 Tbsp.tomato paste
  • 1 Tbsp.lemon juice
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/3 c.canned or jarred hearts of palm, drained and diced (if you’ve never tired these, be aware that they are VERY yummy!)
  • 2 small tomatoes, seeded, and diced (you could also used canned tomatoes here)

Directions:

  1. In a shallow bowl, mix together half of the green onion, half of the yellow onion, half of the ginger, half the cilantro, half of the garlic, and 4 Tbsp. of olive oil. Add the chunks of fish and toss to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least 3 hours.
  2. 30 minutes prior to cooking, remove the fish from the fridge to let it come to room temperature. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lay out your fish on a large baking sheet and pour the lemon juice on top. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  3. Bring the extra 2 tablespoons of the olive oil to medium heat in a large sauté pan. Add the remaining green onion and yellow onion to the pan along with the  bell peppers and cook about 3 minutes, or until softened.
  4. Add the rest of the garlic and ginger to the pan and saute for another minute or until it’s hot. Add the chicken broth and let it come to a full boil. Add the coconut milk and tomato paste and return to a boil. Immediately lower the heat to medium-low or so and gently simmer the sauce while you prepare the fish.
  5. Place your tray of fish in the oven and bake until the fish is almost but not quite cooked through, 10 to 14 minutes.
  6. Add the almost-cooked fish and cooking juices into the saute pan of sauce.  Cover the pan, reduce the heat to low, and simmer until the fish is soft and tender, 5 to 7 minutes.
  7. Uncover the pan, add the hearts of palm and tomatoes, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes.
  8. Taste the moqueca and adjust salt and pepper seasonings. Serve topped with the remaining fresh cilantro.

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Nutrition (per serving):

361 calories, 23 g. fat, 23 g. protein, 9 g. carbs, 3 g. fiber. WW PointsPlus: 10

Thai-Style Sweet & Sour Fish Soup

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Thai-Style Sweet & Sour Fish Soup

fish soup

This soup is heavenly and comes together in under 15 minutes. I adore Thai cooking because nearly everything is very quick to put together. Once you get down the basic methods of cooking a stir-fry, a curry, fried rice, and soup, you can adjust recipes to your own preferences and explore your own combinations.

Many soup recipes call for a slow simmer for what seems like hours, but Thai soups are flavored with fresh spices which brighten up a broth in a matter of minutes rather than hours.

While this recipe calls for a few non-Western ingredients, I’ve included substitutes below so those that may not be near a grocery store with access to wild lime leaves, galangal root, or sweet Thai basil can still make this soup. For those following a vegan or vegetarian diet, this soup is also fabulous when made with vegetable broth and extra vegetables substituted for the fish. Try carrots, bok choy, or bell peppers!

The husband and I took a trip to Thailand back in 2011, which is where we got engaged.

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It was such an incredible trip – the main reason why I wanted to travel there was to try the food.

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It completely opened my world to new flavors and experiences, and I love Thai food now more than ever.

rest.

As with most Thai cooking, be sure to prep all of your ingredients before you get started. The dish comes together so quickly you won’t have much time to dice or chop once you start.

Makes: 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 12 oz. (about 2 filets) of white fish, cut into bite-size chunks (I’ve had good success with Tilapia, which is cheap and holds up well in the freezer)
  • 1 Tbsp. galangal root, cut into think matchstick (ginger root* works as a substitute)
  • 2 stalks lemongrass**, smashed and chopped into inch-long pieces
  • 2 wild lime leaves (substitute juice from half of one lime if you do not have access to lime leaves)
  • 2 small tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/2 cup mushroom, button or white, quartered
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 4 Tbsp. fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh sweet Thai basil leaves, chopped (substitute regular basil if needed – you can also omit if you don’t have any handy)
  • 1 Tbsp. fish sauce (sorry, no substitutes! You can find this in almost any grocery store on the Asian foods aisle. It is called for in the majority of Thai dishes so it is a great pantry staple. The Red Boat brand has a paleo-friendly version)
  • 1 hot Thai chili pepper (Bird’s eye or similar**), seeded and sliced into rings
  • Juice from half of one lime

Directions:

  1. Bring the chicken broth, galangal (or ginger) root, lemongrass, and hot Thai pepper to a boil in a heavy pot over medium-high heat.
  2. Stir in the fish sauce, mushrooms, basil, lime leaves (or juice if substituting), and tomatoes then reduce heat to medium low. Let it simmer for about ten minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, in your serving bowl (or divide among individual soup bowls, place the cilantro, green onions, and lime juice and give the bowl a little swirl.
  4. Add the chunks of fish and continue to simmer until fish is opaque and cooked through (just a few minutes).
  5. Remove the lemongrass stalks and lime leaves and discard.
  6. Transfer the soup to your serving dish (or individual bowls). The cilantro and green onions will rise to the top and maintain their fresh flavors.

Nutrition (per  serving):

176 calories, 6 g. fat, 21 g. protein, 11 g. carbs, 3 g. fiber. WW PointsPlus: 4

Okay, friends – what’s your favorite Thai dish? Give me some inspiration!

*Did you know that the easiest way to remove ginger peel is with a spoon? Seriously. Give it a try. I peel mine once I buy it then freeze it. I use my microplane zester to grate the frozen ginger directly into my dishes.

**You can usually find lemongrass among the other spices in your produce section. It freezes nicely if you have extra left in your pack!

** I buy these by the handful and keep them in my freezer. They are so little they thaw in just minutes. Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly after handling them, and avoid contact with your eyes!