Thursday, September 22, 2011

Broiled Tilapia with Thai Coconut-Curry Sauce

Recipe modified by You Want Me to Cook? – March 16, 2011
For a commentary-free and printer-friendly version of it, please click here.

Broiled Tilapia with Thai Coconut-Curry Sauce recipe originally published by Cooking Light on Wednesday, February 11, 2009 via e-mail

Not too long ago, I bought a ridiculous amount of tilapia.  It was a great deal (on top of the usual inexpensive price of tilapia) and I couldn’t resist.  Of course, now I had a ridiculous amount of tilapia to cook.  I originally couldn’t decide if I wanted to make this dish or not.  On one hand, it has a bunch of my favorite things: red peppers, curry, coconut milk and basmati rice.  On another hand, the fish is broiled and I’ve only experienced disaster with broiling fish.  It always ends up too dry.  On yet another hand, it is a full meal at around 500 calories.

What to do… oh, what to do.

In the end, my desire to eat low-fat curry and use up some of my tilapia won out.

© You Want Me to Cook?
Broiled Tilapia with Thai Coconut-Curry Sauce
My tilapia is swimming in the sauce and I SWEAR that it is the serving size given by Cooking Light.  I believe my nephew said, “WTH – Heck?”  (Yes, he added an additional “Heck” on to the “What the Heck”.  Cut him some slack – he’s only 10.)   

So floating fish aside, I wanted to eat it immediately.  It was bright, had a lot of texture and it smelled fantastic!

© Cooking Light

Looking at their picture, it looks like the put the sauce on the bed of rice and under the tilapia and a little to the side.

Also, if you ask me, it’s a terrible picture.  The more I’m comparing the pictures… the more I’m starting to think my plated fish looks better. 

for more details about what my ratings mean, go to Gretchen’s Rating System

MessEH – I made my rice in a rice cooker and lined my fish pan with foil, so I only had one truly dirty pan in which I made the sauce.  There was a lot of prep, but none of it is overly messy.

Start-to-Finish Time: UNDER AN HOUR – And if you have help with prep, you can knock this out in close to 30 minutes.

Prep Work: LOSS OF FINGER POSSIBLE – There’s some chopping involved, but I used some pre-minced and dried herbs to soften the blow.

Ease of Recipe: THE BASICS – If you haven’t used your oven’s broiler, it may be a new experience for you, but overall, this is an easy dish to make.  It looks more complicated than it is since there are a lot of ingredients.  Just be careful to not overcook the fish and that’s easy to do when using the broiler.

OverallYUMMY – My husband and I are on a curry kick, so this dish fits right in!  Also, tilapia is nice and cheap and that fits in nicely with our lifestyle (budget-wise that is – hehehe).  Fish can be a crapshoot with the leftovers but the sauce saves it especially since there’s a lot of it.

Recipe Information:
I am not a doctor or dietician.  I make my nutritional assessments with the aid of Spark Recipes.  I run the original recipe and my altered recipe through their calorie counter and then compute the differences I find.  My numbers are to be used as a guideline.  Anyone who is under dietary medical supervision should follow the advice of their medical professional if their opinion differs from mine.  PLEASE!

Servings: 4
  • 1 fillet
  • ½ cup sauce
  • ¾ cup rice
  • 1 lime wedge
No Timing

The serving size is accurate because it’s one fillet per person and you’ll have plenty of sauce.  You’ll definitely need some crusty bread to sop up the extra saucy goodness.  I’d recommend a nice spinach salad to round out the meal too.

There’s no timing, which makes me a sad pseudo-chef.  However, it took me under an hour, so I’m not terribly concerned about it.  Here is the timing of my recipe:
  • Prep Time: 24 minutes
  • Make Sauce: 16 minutes
  • Broil Fish: 7 minutes
  • Total Time: 47 minutes
Nutritional Information
  • Calories 506
  • Total Fat 17.1g (Saturated Fat 5.9g)
  • Cholesterol 82mg
  • Calcium 47mg
  • Sodium 616mg
  • Total Carbohydrate 56.6g
  • Fiber 3.1g
  • Protein 29g
  • Iron 2.7mg
I am surprised at the calories and some of the numbers in this dish.  Of course, it’s a full meal (fish with a side of rice) and it’s still under a third of your daily caloric intake, so I guess it isn’t that bad at all.  I do think the sodium is pretty high for a fish dish.  Just to make sure I wasn’t missing anything, I plugged the dish into the Spark Database to check its accuracy and here are the numbers:
  • Calories 451.7
  • Total Fat 11.3g (Saturated Fat 6.2g)
  • Cholesterol 82.5mg
  • Sodium 583.4mg
  • Total Carbohydrate 50.6g
  • Fiber 2.1g
  • Sugar 8.9g
  • Protein 38.3g
Actually, the recipe is a little better off than I thought.  Most of the numbers were slightly lower and that’s a good thing.  You know what else is really good?  This recipe is a great supplier of the following:
  • Vitamin A – important for eye function and repair/growth of vital tissues
  • Vitamin C – an antioxidant that cannot be created by the body
Changes denoted by red text
© You Want Me to Cook?
Broiled Tilapia with Thai Coconut-Curry Sauce
1 teaspoon dark sesame oil blend, divided 

2 teaspoons chopped ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced 

1 cup finely chopped red bell pepper 

1 cup chopped green onions
1 teaspoon curry powder
2 teaspoons green curry paste
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin 

4 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce

1 tablespoon brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1 (14-ounce) can light coconut milk
2 teaspoons dried cilantro
4 (6-ounce) tilapia fillets
Cooking spray
3 cups hot cooked brown basmati rice
4 lime wedges
Fit Wash

Ingredient Notes:
Dark Sesame Oil Blend – the recipe called for dark sesame oil, but I couldn’t find any.  I already had was a dark sesame oil blend and it worked out well.

Ginger – the original recipe called for minced fresh ginger.  However, ginger is messy, I hate having to mince it and I already had pre-chopped on hand.  I’m sure you’re surprised I took the shortcut, right?

Garlic – to save some time, I used pre-minced.  Yeah, I know it isn’t as good as fresh, but I don’t care.

Red Bell Pepper – I used one small pepper to get the one cup.  According to Cook’s Thesaurus, red and yellow peppers are riper, more flavorful, and pricier than the more common green ones, but feel free to use the green if that’s what you have on hand. 

Green Onions – I used about 4 large green onions to get 1 cup.  And these things were HUGE!  I swear, the bulbs were like a small onion.

Green Curry Paste
  • Curry paste is made out of the chilies (red or green), onions, sugar, shrimp paste, fish sauce and some other spices.  You can make your own, but they do sell it… and that’s a lot easier.  You can find the curry paste in the Asian/Thai section of your grocery store. 
  • The original recipe called for red curry paste.  I only had green on hand and I couldn’t find red at the store, so that worked.
Brown Sugar – The recipe didn’t specify to pack it or not, so I lightly packed it enough to level it off in the measuring spoon.

Cliantro – the original recipe called for 2 tablespoons of fresh, but for this small amount, I didn’t want to buy an entire bunch.  I used 2 teaspoons of dried as a substitiute.

Basmati Rice – basmati (pronounced bahs MAH tee) is a long-grain rice used frequently in Indian food.  It is dry and fluffy (read perfect for curries and sauces).  I used a brown basmati rice because it is healthier (hello fiber) and it also has a stronger flavor, but beware… it takes longer to cook.  If you can’t find it, you can use any long-grain rice but shoot for a jasmine rice if you can.

Fit Wash – since peppers always seem waxy to me, I used the fit wash to get them nice and clean.

Equipment Needed:
© You Want Me to Cook?
Broiled Tilapia with Thai Coconut-Curry Sauce
Cutting board
Sharp knife
Rice cooker
(2) Prep bowls
Small bowl
(3) Spoons – mixing
Dutch oven
Large spoon
Baking sheet
Aluminum Foil
Pastry Brush

Equipment Notes:
Rice Cooker – this isn’t a “necessary” piece of equipment, but I love my rice cooker.  Actually, it was one of the only appliances my husband owned when I met him.  Yeah, I couldn’t figure it out either… no toaster, blender (even for mixed drinks), or hand mixer – but a rice cooker.

Prep Bowls, Small Bowl & Spoons – I put these in here because I wanted to prepare my spice and herb blends before I started cooking.  The recipe goes really fast and I didn’t want to have to worry about measuring and mixing during the cooking phase.

Dutch Oven – the recipe called for a large nonstick skillet, but if you don’t have one that is large AND deep, just use your Dutch oven.

Aluminum Foil – every time I broil, the juices from the meat I’m cooking seems to burn to the bottom of the pan.  Therefore, I always line the pans with foil, unless the recipe specifically forbids me to do it.

© You Want Me to Cook?
Broiled Tilapia with Thai Coconut-Curry Sauce
Ingredients Prepped
(1)  Mix ginger and garlic in a prep bowl.

(2)  Mix curry powder, curry paste and cumin in a prep bowl.

(3)  In a small bowl, mix the soy sauce, sugar, ¼ teaspoon salt and coconut milk.


(4)  Start the rice and preheat broiler.

(5)  Heat 1/2 teaspoon oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat.

Make sure your blends (steps 1-3) are ready because the next four steps of this recipe go very fast.  It can burn quickly.

(6)  Add ginger and garlic blend from prep bowl; cook 1 minute stirring constantly.

(7)  Add pepper and onions; cook 1 minute stirring.

(8)  Stir in curry powder, curry paste, and cumin blend from prep bowl; cook 1 minute stirring constantly.

© You Want Me to Cook?
Broiled Tilapia with Thai Coconut-Curry Sauce
(9)  Add soy sauce, sugar, salt, and coconut milk blend from small bowl; bring to a simmer (do not boil).

(10)  Remove from heat; stir in cilantro.

(11)  Brush fish with 1/2 teaspoon oil; sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt.  

(12)  Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and coat with cooking spray.  Place fish on the baking sheet and broil 7 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Serve fish with sauce, rice, and lime wedges.

Overall, this was a light fish with a heavenly, colorful, light sauce over a bed of fluffy rice.  It is definitely a keeper and can be done quickly on a hectic weekday.  It had so many layers and textures to it that I ENJOYED eating it.  And by that, I mean, it was fluffy yet crispy.  Light yet savory.  Each bite had something unexpected.

If I were going to change it, I probably would use a little less sauce on the plate and keep some on the side.  Other than that, I wouldn’t change a thing!

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