Posted on | March 16, 2008 | 37 Comments |
I’ve been real busy lately with work deadlines fast approaching, and preparing for a trip coming up in a week or so. I didn’t get time to look at my rss feeds for three days, and suddenly the number of unread posts were in three digits. I have way too many recipes and restaurant reviews waiting in my drafts. If I don’t type those up soon, the details will be forgotten for sure. The to-do pile for blogging is as tall as the to-do pile for work… Blogging is more fun, if only someone paid me to do this… sigh… Till then, I have to go through my work pile first, and use my R&R time for blogging related activities, so bear with me!
Ever since I saw the mouthwatering pictures of Aswin’s Pan Fried Fish with Roasted Onion Marinade I have been planning to try something similar. Finally I got the chance last weekend, when we picked up two Tilapias from the live fish tank in Uwajimaya. I am not very fond of the pre-packaged Tilapia filets, I think those lack flavor, but the fresh ones out of the tank taste really good. I am partial to whole Tilapias, since those look so much like my favorite fish -Karimeen aka Pearl Spot from Kerala. In fact Tilapia is called poor man’s Karimeen in Kerala.
I made some modifications to the original recipe like adding coconut to the roasted ingredients and also some tamarind juice to the spice paste. The marinade on its own tasted so good, I didn’t want to pan-fry the fish with this marinade. Pan-frying will work great for thin filets, but these Tilapias were too big, there was no way I could cook the fish without burning half of the marinade. My oven broke down a couple of days ago, so I couldn’t bake these either, so I decided to steam the fish instead to make sure the fish is cooked through and the taste of the marinade stays intact.
I have never steamed a fish before, I don’t have any of the fancy steamer equipments, so I improvised by lining the steamer attachment for my electric rice cooker with parchment paper. Steaming was the greatest idea ever, since even the marinade inside the fish got cooked wonderfully. Normally when you pan fry a whole fish, the marinade inside never gets cooked completely, and always have a raw taste which I hate. It only took about 10 minutes to cook the two large Tilapias, much quicker than baking or pan frying. I still like the taste of the fried fish more than steamed, so once the fish was steamed, I quickly flash fried the fish a couple of minutes on each side with very little oil. The outside turned out really crispy, while the inside was tender and moist, best of both worlds! This is going to be my favorite technique for cooking large whole fish.
- Two large sized whole Tilapia
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- salt to taste
- 2 tsp oil
- 1 tbsp dried tamarind soaked in warm water. (1 tsp tamarind paste)
- For the Marinade
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced shallots
- 2 tbsp thinly sliced ginger pieces
- 4 large cloves garlic minced
- 3 small green chilies sliced
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
- 1/4 cup fresh grated coconut
- 1/2 tsp red chili powder
- 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
- salt to taste
Clean the fish and make some gashes on both sides. Rub the fish well with salt and lemon juice and keep aside.
To make the marinade, heat 1 tsp oil in a pan and add the shallots, ginger, garlic and sliced chilies. Saute till the shallots are soft and translucent. Add the coconut and saute till the coconut mixture starts to brown. Reduce the heat and add the salt, pepper, chili powder and turmeric powder and saute till the spices are completely roasted. Remove from heat.
Grind the roasted ingredients along with the tamarind water to form a smooth paste. If using tamarind paste, add some water to help the grinding process.
Apply this marinade liberally on the cleaned fish inside and out. Keep for about 15 minutes.
Line a steamer with parchment paper so that the marinade won’t drip out. Steam covered for about 10 minutes.
Heat 1 tsp oil in a large non-stick pan, and flash fry the fish about 2 minutes per side, turning once so that the outside of the fish gets a crispy texture.
Serve hot with lemon wedges.
The perfectly steamed marinade inside the fish tasted so good… We had a fish each with some simple pan roasted potatoes on the side for a delicious lunch. The potato wedges dipped in the marinade was heaven! Siv had his with a fried egg on top, restaurant style. First I thought he was crazy, but it kind of worked… and it made a great picture too!
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