Indian · Seafood

Tandoori Baked Fish

tandoori fish.jpg
This is a dish we often enjoy! It’s a slightly different take on the Indian recipe. We often eat it on cold winter days. The subtle spice from the chilli burns your mouth, but the yogurt and soft fish balances it out, paired with aromatic jasmine rice! I often put the leftover liquid ‘sauce’ from the fish onto the rice and the blend of sweet, sour and spicy, soft and crunchy (from the nuts) can only be described as dimension-transporting, especially during the winter months. I highly recommend trying it out if you want to be transported to an earthy plane of herbs, spices and grounding aromas while a snowstorm surges outside.

In terms of ingredients, I use Tilapia fish because it blends well with Indian spices. I’ve tried using cod and I don’t recommend using it because cod does better with butter / Western ingredients. Same with the lime vs lemon thing: I am convinced lime goes better with Asian cooking and white fish, whereas lime’s slightly more intense sour flavour goes well with oily fishes like salmon or trout. In terms of the yogurt I chose, I actually found that out by accident! Plain yogurt is a bit bland for me and I dislike using sugar to sweeten things; using coconut Greek Yogurt adds that lovely sweet earthy taste which blends so well with the spices and the fish. Remember to buy Greek full fat yogurt over regular yogurt as it’s much creamier and less liquidity. 🙂

Tandoori Baked Fish

Main Ingredients

  • 2 tilapia fillets
  • Lime juice (I prefer to use lime over lemon because it has a more subtle flavour and compliments white fishes better)
  • Coconut oil /ghee / olive oil for basting
  • Cashews / Walnuts crushed

For Garnishing

  • Fresh lime to serve
  • Chopped fresh coriander leaves / green onions

Tandoori Paste
I usually make the paste with a mortar and pestle although you can also use a blender. I do think that stoneground spice pastes taste better. It’s up to you if it’s an available option or not.

sambal.pngIngredients for paste

  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 2 ts cumin
  • Fresh ginger minced (I’m liberal… I usually chop a tablespoon)
  • 3-5 cloves minced garlic
  • 3 red bird-eye-chilli, deseeded and cut into small bits
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) coconut Greek Yogurt (or any flavour. I actually like to use coconut yogurt for its natural sweetness)
  • A pinch of rock sugar
  • A pinch of pink salt
  • Liberal amounts of white pepper

Dry roast the cumin and coriander first in a pan till they ‘pop’ for about 2 minutes. Usually you’ll know it’s ready when your pan starts making popcorn noises. Set aside. Grind rest of ingredients in a mortar and pestle, starting with the solids (ginger, garlic, chilli, coriander, cumin), then slowly adding a bit of yogurt till paste turns yellowish. I sometimes add some cayenne pepper or curry powder, as well.

tilapiaPrep:
– Rub fillets with lime juice and set aside while making spice paste
– Marinate the fillets with spice paste.
– Use a knife and cut little sideways incisions (about halfway through) into the fish so the spice paste enters the flesh and it cooks more evenly.
– Top fish with chopped nuts

Cooking

  1. Preheat the oven to about 375 Fahrenheit
  2. Cook fish in oven for approx 14-16 minutes, depending on thickness of fish. Occasionally baste your fish from time to time with oil every 7 minutes or so. At 12 minute mark, check incision to see if the fish is white on the inside. If so, cook a bit more.
  3. Serve with jasmine rice, freshly cut coriander / green onions and lime wedges. I like to serve mine on a banana leaf as well!

mortar and pestle

Seafood · Teochew

The best Fish Congee in the world

This is one of the classic recipes that my Singaporean roommate, Dina, and I developed together in Montreal, inspired by childhood memories of fish porridge and drawing from our limited knowledge of what actually went into it.

screen2bshot2b2014-09-092bat2b10-54-292bpmAs a child, I grew up eating Alexander Road’s famous raw fish porridge every Saturday morning. For the uninitiated, raw fish porridge consists of savoury mouth-melting fish that dissolves into your mouth, mixed with delicious creamy congee, freshly cut ginger and the spicy tang of chilli; a combination that can only be described as apotheosis-tic. When my husband and I returned to that place last year, the place had shut down after decades because of the raw fish ban in Singapore. We were very sad. However, it’s with some consolation that I present to you my take on the classic Teochew Fish porridge, with a Japanese, Cantonese and Western twist.
porridge.jpg
This is a dish that consists of many flavours, textures and colours. Fried scallions and green onions delivers a delightful crunch both crisp and crunchy; the fish melts in your mouth, mixed in with silky congee and the occasional starchy consistency of the potato. The century egg- a Cantonese inspiration- gives a strong flavour that balances out the milder soupy textures. All combined, this is definitely one of my favourite comfort recipes.

In terms of ingredients, I prefer to use Japanese rice because it makes for a smoother porridge. If you use other types of rice, it’s recommended that you blend it in the blender but I did not own a blender when this recipe was developed, and I think it turns out just fine. As for fish, freshness is not as important as how well the fish absorbs flavour. Frozen fish actually delivers a better texture for the porridge. I use frozen basa (tilapia’s softness is lost in this dish and cod/ sole do not absorb flavours as well as basa) marinated in ginger, oyster sauce, white pepper, a bit of sesame oil and soy sauce. I also buy century eggs that are already cooked, so not the ones coated in dirt but the ones pre-packed in boxes. Fried scallions are a must- do not skip it!


porridge.jpgIngredients (3 servings)

Marinade for fish:

  • Dash of oyster sauce, soy sauce and sesame oil;
  • 2 inches of chopped fresh ginger
  • Lots of white pepper

For Porridge:

  • 3/4 cup Japanese/ short-grain calrose rice 
  • Chicken bouillon cube
  • 1 small potato cut into small wedges

For garnishing:

  • Fried scallions/onions
  • 1 century egg (They’re good in other things too although a bit strong to eat by themselves. People like to put it into bland things or even into steamed egg custard because it adds that needed punch)
  • Green onions, finely chopped
  • Liberal amounts of white pepper!

Prep (night before):

  • Marinate frozen fish* with oyster sauce, soy sauce, lots of white pepper, chopped ginger, and a dash of sesame oil

Recipe:

  • Boil Japanese rice in a lot of water > approximately 3x amount of water to rice to begin with. Add water halfway through if you see it becomes too dry; it should be mushy by the end.
  • Add about one chicken bouillon block to the soup directly.
  • Cut a potato into little cubes (I usually cut them into triangles so they absorb flavour better) and add it into the pot as rice is simmering. 
  • Turn the heat to about medium when it’s boiling and occasionally stir; let cook for about 20 minutes then turn to lowest heat; there should be some liquid but add more liquid if it’s not mushy enough. You want to make sure that there is a little bit of liquid so the rice doesn’t burn at the bottom.
  • Once porridge is at right consistency, add the fish and turn off heat and put on lid. Let the fish cook in the porridge by itself; if it overcooks, it may lose it’s elasticity and become rubbery.
    **A trick I learned growing up- they used to serve raw fish and we’d just cook it in the porridge which made for perfect fish!**
  • Cut a century egg and add half a century egg per bowl, garnish with green onions and fried onions.
  • Put lots of white pepper and lots of fried onions!
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Welcome

Welcome!

This is the blog Justine and I set up to share recipes we found or made. 🙂

Justine is a Canadian living in California and I am a Singaporean living in Montreal. Our recipes will hence span the range of East and West cuisine!

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Amy:  I am very much a haphazard, explorative cook. As an artist, cooking for me is another way of painting only with flavours: one plays around with many sources, textures and colours in order to create something beautiful but finite. I love food to be colourful, nutritious and delicious. I also love telling stories with my food! I grew up with my grandma’s Teochew cooking (a lot of soup and fresh seafood). In my early 20s, I lived with a woman whose elaborate cooking introduced me to the wide range of textures and flavours in Cantonese cuisine. Upon moving out alone, I taught myself (or rather, experiment-cooked) using the set of skills I had acquired observing her cook, in order to develop my own style of cooking. A lot of my recipes combine Japanese, Cantonese and Teochew influences, with a Western twist.

 

IMG_6416.jpgJustine: As a toddler I was fascinated by new tastes and intricate flavors, not long after I began to use the stove. I delight in the alchemy of cooking and fermenting. Growing food and living in California has influenced my style, I love the flavor of fresh in-season colorful fruits and veggies. Cooking is a beautiful endeavor, preparing the world to be pleasing to us so it can fuel us to do the things we enjoy.