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Poached Tilapia with Ginger and Coconut Milk

February 19, 2009
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poached-tilapiaCoconut milk is one of my favorite ingredients. I try to use it in as many dishes as I can. I always have a few cans in my pantry. I usually buy the low fat version- the flavor is the same and you end up saving quite a few calories. My cousin gave me this recipe years ago and I have been made it quite often until a few years ago- somehow forgot about it. It is a simple and delicious dish that doesn’t take very long to make. I used Tilapia for this dish. Any white fish can be used- Tilapia doesn’t have a very strong flavor and so it doesn’t take over the curry. I was able to taste all the subtle flavors in there including the ginger, lime and of course the coconut milk. Mustard seeds are easily available in the super market especially the yellow ones- they can be substituted for the brown ones. The curry leaves are not so readily available unless you find an Indian store. One might imagine that curry leaves smell and taste like curry powder, but they are not related to each other. The leaves look a lot like small bay leaves but their aromas and flavors are distinctly different. The flavor cannot be duplicated so I would leave them out if you can’t find them. This dish goes best with plain rice and either a beer or a Riesling!

  • 1 pound Tilapia, cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 5-6 curry leaves
  • 3 inch piece ginger, grated
  • 2 serrano chilies, chopped- take the seeds out if you don’t want too spicy
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1 cup crushed tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup light coconut milk
  • ½ cup fish or chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice
  • ½ cup cilantro for garnish

In a wide pan, heat olive oil and add the mustard seeds and the curry leaves. Wait till the seeds begin to sizzle, about a minute. Add the ginger and chilies. Saute on medium heat for about 2-3 minutes. Add the onions. Saute for 4-5 minutes on medium heat. Then add the tomatoes, turmeric, coriander powder, salt and cayenne pepper. Saute for another 5 minutes on medium heat. Add the coconut milk and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the chicken broth, bring to a boil and lower the heat to a medium low. Add the tilapia pieces and poach in the liquid on the low heat, for about 10 to 15 minutes or till fish is done (careful not to overcook). Check for seasoning and add the lime juice and cilantro.

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February 22, 2009 at 3:31 PM

Hi Monica, I had just bought Flounder and made it the traditional way, but I had some pieces left and thought to use your recipe. I used only 1/2 serrano pepper (very spicy), substituted the Flounder for the Tilapia, omitted the curry leaves-didn’t have any, used diced not crushed tomatoes, and had an absolut winner in my hand. I thought Robert was happy with the mushroom pesto penne, but this one topped it. Thanks for your inspiration and the great recipes.

February 22, 2009 at 7:12 PM

Andrea, you make me happy with all the experimenting you are doing. Thank you for trying my recipes.. I love getting feedback!!!

March 31, 2010 at 3:05 PM

Hi Monica,
Andrea just made this dish for our family and it was delicious we really enjoyed it. We love the spice and fish combination.

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