Tilapia is a versatile, freshwater fish which takes on the flavours of sauces really nicely. I cannot say that I grew up eating this fish because it was not really around much then. It was only with the spread of imported farmed fish in the UK that Tilapia entered my world. I have adapted an Indian street food fried fish recipe for this dish, but because it is so delicate, I have done a pan-fried rather than a deep fried version.
Pan-fried Tilapia works really well as a starter or teatime treat for a High Tea. I have occasionally served this at my supperclubs and it has always gone down well. It takes next to no time to prepare and cook, especially if you buy fillets rather than whole Tilapia.
Serves: 4 Prep and Cooking Time: 30 min
You will need:
- 4 large fillets of Tilapia, frozen or fresh
- 2 tbsp plain yoghurt
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 large and juicy lime
- 4 tbsp cooking oil
- 4 hot Indian green chillies (Kenyan or Thai will do if you cannot get these)
- 1 cup of coriander leaves
- 1 tsp Chaat Masala (easily available in Asian shops)
- A non-stick frying pan
Defrost the fish if frozen, either in a microwave or in water. While this is happening, chop the chillies finely. When the fish is completely defrosted, cut each fillet into four pieces . Place the pieces in a large mixing bowl and sprinkle the salt and turmeric on them. Massage these into the fish pieces so that they are spread evenly and absorbed. Squeeze the lime onto the pieces and add the yoghurt to the bowl as well. Mix thoroughly so that each piece is evenly coated. Leave this to marinate for 10 minutes.
Put the oil in a non-stick frying pan on a medium heat setting on your hob. Heavier frying pans work better as the fish will not catch easily. When the oil starts to heat up, slide the fish pieces in one at a time – fry them in small batches of 5-6 pieces keeping the heat on medium. Do not pour any of the marinade into the pan, but only the fish pieces which should have some marinade sticking to them. The fish will start to release liquid and will bubble vigorously in the pan. Turn the heat down and put a lid on for 5-10 minutes, which will provide enough steam to cook the fish through. Turn over on to the other side and give it another couple of minutes or slightly longer if you want it crisper. Remove the lid and sprinkle the pieces with the chopped chillies. Put the lid on again and turn the heat down to the lowest setting on your hob and cook for another 2 minutes. Remove the fish gently into a serving dish. Fry the next batch in the same way. When all the pieces have been cooked in this fashion, sprinkle them with the Chaat Masala and garnish with chopped coriander leaves before serving.