Sunday, July 24, 2011

Coconut Tilapia with a Mustard Fig Sauce

I was suddenly feeling very Iron Chef, and I wanted to make something a little more complex than usual.  I enjoy cooking, but often times things like "complimentary sauces" or "food that requires me to dirty more than 2 dishes" just doesn't happen.  But, sometimes that's exactly what NEEDS to happen, and as a lovely result, delicious food is what happens!

I started with this recipe found at, but due to not having certain ingredients, or just wanting to be creative, I ended up altering it pretty substantially.

First I prepped my beautiful tilapia filets (seen here) by cutting them in half longways, so they would cook more evenly, fit in the pan better, and just have a prettier look to them.  When I was done I sprinkled them with cornstarch and dusted off the excess.  I set the filets aside and started to assemble my coconut mixture.
1 cup of unsweetened coconut flakes
1 tbsp flour
1/4 panko bread crumbs
Assorted spices (I don't have anything labeled Creole seasoning, so I threw in a dash of salt, black pepper, dried basil, BBQ spice rub, oregano - add your own twist to this!  And don't hold back, my only regret was that I wished I had put more spice in to the coconut mixture!)

I tossed those things around and put the whole thing on a dinner plate for easy coating of my fish.  On a separate plate (or bowl, so you're not creating extra dishes), whisk 1 egg  that you'll dredge your fish in.  I used 2, and had about a bajillion egg left over.  Now would be a good time to get some olive oil heated up in a big pan that won't crowd your fish (remember, we want it all shimmery), and fix yourself a drink while you wait for that to heat, since you've done all your prep.

Instead of a drink, I had a camera in my spare hand instead.  You're welcome!  ;)  When your oil is ready to cook, dunk your fish pieces in the egg, coating all of it, then flop it around in your beautiful coconut mixture, then arrange them in the pan so that they'll cook evenly.  I used fairly small pieces of fish, and cooked them for about 5-6 minutes on each side (don't forget to flip these!).

While that's cooking, make your dipping sauce!  I didn't have the apricot jam that was called for in the recipe, but I did have fig spread (I know, who has fig but not apricot??  I'm weird).  I also substituted stone-ground mustard, and just a dash of horseradish.  The fruit sauce really brings out the coconut, but you don't want it to be too sweet.  I kept adding mustard until I was happy that the sauce was just what the dish needed.

Serve your dish, and wait for the compliments to pour in, enjoying your plate in the meantime.  Shrimp would also be easy to substitute in (well, easy if you're not counting the shelling and cleaning you have to do before hand, or easy if you make someone else in your house do that part)!

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