Our readers have been requesting more fish recipes, and so today I thought I would revisit this extra-simple, extra-fast recipe that delivers huge flavor in a foolproof package. Fish cooks so fast; this dish is so convenient for those last-minute meals. It was one of my first "grown-up" recipes, a quick meal for busy evenings after work. I would turn to this frequently when living alone or with roommates. It never failed to please, with the pungent, aromatic flavors of cilantro, ginger, and sesame.
It's sweet and spicy, salty from the soy sauce and melting in the middle. It's certainly not the prettiest dish, but it's oh-so-fast, oh-so-easy, and oh-so-good.
On Tilapia and Sustainability
For sustainability, the best tilapia choice is domestically farmed tilapia. Tilapia adapts well to farming, and while domestically farmed tilapia makes up only about 10% of commercially available tilapia, it is the most environmentally friendly choice, according to the Monterey Bay Seafood Watch. A good alternative is farmed tilapia from Central or Southern America. It's best to avoid tilapia from Taiwan and China.
• Tilapia at the Monterey Bay Seafood Watch
Any thin fish fillet would do as well, too; tilapia isn't your only option here.
Ginger and Cilantro Baked Tilapia
1 pound domestically farmed tilapia fillets
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
3 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1 inch fresh ginger, grated, about 1 tablespoon
1 jalapeño pepper, roughly chopped (optional)
1/3 cup roughly chopped cilantro leaves
1/4 cup white wine
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
Scallions, chopped for garnish
Extra cilantro, to garnish
Heat the oven to 475°F. Pat the fish dry, season lightly with salt and pepper, and lay in a 9x9-inch or 8x8-inch ceramic or glass baking dish.
Put the garlic, grated ginger, chopped jalapeño, and cilantro in a small food processor with the white wine, soy sauce, and sesame oil. Whir until blended. (Alternately, you can finely chop or mash the aromatics in a mortar and pestle, then whisk together with the liquid ingredients.)
Pour the sauce over the fish, rubbing it in a little. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the fish flakes easily and is cooked through. It will be very moist and even a little gelatinous, still.
Serve immediately over brown rice or orzo, garnished with the additional scallions and cilantro.
Originally published June 14, 2007.
(Images: Faith Durand)