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Tilapia poached in spicy coconut milk with couscous, mango and pickled red onion

This recipe came to me from a need to clean out my freezer, cupboard and fridge. Because I love to cook, I often have a surplus of ingredients. I buy cans of coconut milk, for example, in pairs since my store often runs deals. I use the first can for the recipe it was intended for, and then I have an extra can sitting in my cabinet, waiting.

I also love to buy fish when the price is right and freeze it. I was going through my chest freezer and realized I had some lovely tilapia fillets that I needed to use up pronto. I decided to poach them in the coconut milk. Most of the savory recipes that I make that use coconut milk also involve cumin, coriander and turmeric; it seems a smart decision to use them here.

I always have couscous on hand; it is a quick cooking starchy side dish made from semolina flour. I thought it would be perfect under the fish to sop up the coconut milk sauce. I had extra shredded red cabbage on hand from making coleslaw the previous day. I thought the pop of color would be lovely, but I also love having red cabbage with my fish tacos. After I made the decision to use red cabbage, I realized this recipe could steal two of my other favorite ingredients from fish tacos; mango and pickled red onion.

This recipe came together in a flash and was everything I hoped it would be and more. The flavors of the garlicky couscous, the tender flaky fish, the warmly spiced and rich coconut sauce, the sweet and sour mango, and the salty-sweet pickled red onion married so well and created a well-rounded dish; multi-faceted in flavors and color (the white fish, the yellow-orange mango, the golden sauce, the red cabbage and red pickled onion, the tri-colored couscous and the bright pop of green from the parsley). A feast for the eyes and the mouth, and it all came together in 30 minutes! Try it for yourself and enjoy!

1 can coconut milk
1 tablespoon cumin powder
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1/2 tablespoon turmeric
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
freshly cracked black pepper
4 6 ounce fillets of tilapia
1/4 cup diced mango
parsley, chopped

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Pour the coconut milk into a 9 by 9 square inch pan (if the coconut milk has separated, heat it in the microwave or on the stove to re-emulsify it). Add the cumin, coriander, turmeric, salt and pepper and stir. Lay each fillet of tilapia in the pan and turn to coat it completely in the coconut milk.

Bake in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes until the fish flakes easily with a fork. Serve on top of couscous with extra coconut milk sauce, chopped mango, parsley, and pickled red onion. Enjoy!

1 cup tri-color couscous 
3/4 cup shredded red cabbage
3 minced garlic cloves
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon ghee
1 1/4 cup water

In a medium sauce pan with lid, add the ghee, red cabbage and garlic. Cook until the red cabbage is wilted and the garlic is fragrant. Add the salt and water and bring to a boil. Pour in the couscous, stir into the water, and shut off the heat. Put on the lid and let the couscous steam for five minutes.

Fluff it with a fork before serving.

Quick pickled red onion
1 red onion sliced very thinly (on a mandolin)
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon peppercorns

Add the sliced red onions to a heat proof bowl; set aside.

In a medium saucepan, add the vinegar, salt, sugar, peppercorns and cumin seeds. Bring the mixture to a boil, until the salt and sugar are fully dissolved. Cool for 10 minutes and pour over the red onions. Let them pickle in the vinegar for at least 30 minutes before using.

Store the onions in the pickling liquid in an airtight jar in the fridge. They make a great addition to tacos and sandwiches!


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