Tilapia Tostadas


Wow, I see I haven’t posted in 3 weeks!  I bet you were all worried, “Is Dave still eating?”

I offer this hiatus as evidence that I do have a job… actually, I was doing my research work and also had a nice week visit to San Diego for a workshop and to visit old and new friends.

So, lets catch up with some quick-and-dirty foods.

This one is simply a serving suggestion: tilapia tostadas… mashed black beans, shredded napa cabbage, queso fresco, and a tilapia filet (from frozen, defrosted in water and patted dry) lightly pan-fried in oil with oregano, salt, pepper, and a jalapeno hot sauce, and scallion greens, all atop a crisp corn tortilla.

One tip I have for you is to buy corn tortillas and bake them in the oven to crisp them, rather than using those “hard” deep-fried corn tortillas for tostadas.

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Asian Fish Tacos

I imagine you’re thinking, “Wow, Dave hasn’t made any asian dishes in a while…”
Not true.

Well, following my visit to no less than four grocery stores today, I am prepared to soon embark on new culinarily adventures, so I’m using up some of these fresh ingredients.

Asian Fish Tacos

I absolutely love fish tacos, thus made up these asian-fused-with-Tex-Mex fish tacos for lunch.
Typically fish tacos consist of three components atop corn tortillas: fish, a cabbage slaw, and a sauce.

For one serving (3 tacos), I first prepared a slaw from the following ingredients (approximately equal parts of the first 3 vegetables):

  • napa cabbage (3 leaves, green separated from white – see photos below, greens finely sliced/shredded)
  • carrot (1 medium, julienned)
  • bean sprouts (a small handful)
  • scallion greens
  • garlic (1 clove, minced)
  • rice vinegar (~2 T.)
  • hoisin sauce (~2 t.)
  • sesame oil (just a splash)
  • toasted sesame seeds or chopped toasted pine nuts (I used the latter)
  • lime zest (~1 t.)


Dissolve the hoisin sauce in the rice vinegar and toss with the rest of the slaw ingredients and let sit until needed.

For the sauce, simply mix equal parts of mayonnaise and chili garlic sauce.

I used about 2 t. each, per serving (i.e., 3 tacos) and taste-tested it… I think I decided to add half again as much chili sauce.  OK, that’s easy!

Chili Garlic Mayonnaise

For the fish, I chose a tilapia fillet (from frozen, thawed in water), and poached it in a salmon-and-vegetable-based fish stock along with a couple teaspoons of soy sauce.  Here, I had just separated some pieces to test for doneness (i.e., if it will flake apart.)  Concurrently, I warmed corn tortillas in a skillet, and then wrapped them in a towel; this keeps them from getting wet underneath, e.g., if set on a plate when they’re very warm.

Poaching tilapia in fish stock

Warming tortillas

Lastly, I assembled the tacos, topped with a dab more of chili garlic sauce and, as you can see, placed “points” of the white portion of a napa cabbage leaf under each taco.  While intended for presentation, this worked out nicely to support the taco in hand; otherwise, one often must resorts to using two tortillas per taco so that they don’t break when the moist ingredients are placed on top.

Napa cabbage "point."

These tacos were easy and delicious.  They’d probably be nice with mu shu pancakes or flour tortillas as well.

Poached Tilapia with Creamy Shiitake Ragoût

Poached Tilapia with Creamy Shiitake Ragoût

I poached the tilapia fillets in the cream sauce with the vegetables, i.e., a sauce of vegetable stock, heavy cream, cabbage, shiitake mushrooms, dijon mustard, fennel seed, thyme, salt and pepper. I used dried mushrooms, but the texure of fresh mushrooms would likely be better with this delicate fish.

I prepared couscous in vegetable stock and served it layered in the middle.

This was inspired by a related recipe for Pan-Seared Cod with Creamy Fennel Ragoût.

Fish Chowder

Fish Chowder

This is a thin, mild chowder with flavors of salmon, fennel, and thyme, and sweetness from tarragon and sweet corn.

First, I prepared a fish stock, roughly according to this recipe, except I used fresh tarragon rather than thyme:

“Traditional Fish Stock”
http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Traditional-Fish-Stock-105267

Then I used that fish stock rather than chicken broth according to this recipe:

“Salmon and Vegetable Chowder”
http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Salmon-and-Vegetable-Chowder-3042

Other modifications: I substituted celery for zucchini and diced white onion for leek. My original intention was to make a salmon chowder, but having had only about a pound of salmon bones and fin portions (the butcher’s leftovers – hey, it cost $1) with only a modest amount of edible fish meat, I added 1/2 pound of bite-sized pieces of tilapia fillets. Also, I used slightly less fennel seed than the recipe suggested since a fair number of people seem to object to the flavor if it’s strong.

A tip: if you buy frozen tilapia fillets, I suggest thawing them in water instead of the microwave, because they can overcook easily and get a rubbery texture.

Veggie Fried Rice and Wasabi Pea-crusted Tilapia

Veggie Fried Rice and Wasabi Pea-crusted Tilapia

This is a recipe that I just made up, while getting over a learning and coding-induced headache this evening. :-) I’d been meaning to use dried wasabi peas in a dish, and found that many people online had also thought of it, such as to coat fish or to season popcorn.

Fish: small tilapia fillets, dipped in an egg wash and in a mixture of powdered wasabi peas (crushed with a mortar and pestle) and a bit of rice flour, then pan-fried in peanut oil.

Rice: canola oil, sliced carrot and scallion, sticky rice, green peas, soy sauce, fish sauce, rice vinegar, minced garlic, chili garlic sauce, black pepper, scallion greens, and egg scrambled (in advance, then added to the rice at the end) in a bit of peanut and sesame oils.

Surprisingly, the fish wasn’t particularly spicy. I added plenty of additional chili sauce when eating this one. Next time I’d add a couple other seasonings to the fish as well or just mix pieces into the fried rice.

Shiitake and Bok Choy Soup, Broiled Tilapia, and Sesame Sautéed Baby Bok Choy

Shiitake and Bok Choy Soup, Broiled Tilapia, and Sesame Sautéed Baby Bok Choy

I found some dried shiitake mushrooms in the cupboard that my mom gave me some ten years ago (they were grown in Arkansas, of all places), so I decided to finally reconstituted them for this soup. To the best of my recollection, this is the first soup I’ve made from scratch. :-)

Here are the recipes I used for this healthy meal:

“Chicken, Shiitake and Bok Choy Soup”
http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Chicken-Shiitake-and-Bok-Choy-Soup-103106
(The water used to reconstitute the mushrooms was used, in part, to make chicken bouillon.)

“Asian-Style Grilled Tilapia”
http://www.food.com/recipe/asian-style-grilled-tilapia-192282
(I substituted chili garlic sauce for red pepper flakes, added minced cilantro to the marinade, and served this atop sticky rice. While broiling, I reduced the marinade and served it over the tilapia.)

The sesame bok choy was prepared similarly to my earlier sesame swiss chard, but spiced up with a spoonful of chili garlic sauce.