The fish was supposed to be our lunch yesterday but it didn’t thaw early enough. In fact, it thawed in time for dinner. So, it became dinner. It was a rather large fish — a 1.4 kilogram talakitok (trevally) that wouldn’t fit in the steamer so I decided to bake it. Now, plain baked fish with plain white rice would have been too darn plain and boring.
So I jazzed up my rice by cooking it with turmeric and coconut milk.
And, to add even more flavor, color and texture, a sweet and tangy side salad with tomatoes, cucumber, chili, lemon juice and sweet ripe mangoes. It is summer, after all, the much-awaited mango season and mangoes these days are sweet, inexpensive and simply luscious.
Too complicated and labor intensive? Of course not! The rice was cooked in the microwave so it needed very little supervision. I prepared the salad while the rice cooked and while the fish baked in the oven. By the time the fish was done, it was all a matter of assembly.
- 1 whole talakitok (or your preferred firm and fleshy fish), see notes below
- salt to taste
- pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon sesame seed oil
- 1 cup rice
- 1 tablespoon turmeric powder
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 2 tomatoes
- 1 small cucumber
- 2 ripe mangoes
- 1 finger chili
- juice of half a lemon
- a handful of cilantro roughly chopped
Preheat the oven to 375F.
Score the fish. Rub with salt and pepper, working both the salt and pepper into the slits and cavity.
Take two long sheets of aluminum foil (should be longer than the fish). Lay one sheet of foil on a baking tray and brush with half of the sesame seed oil. Lay the fish on the oiled sheet. Brush the inside of the other sheet with the remaining sesame seed oil and cover the fish with it, oiled side touching the fish. Crimp the edges of the two sheets of foil together to seal the fish completely. Bake in a preheated 375F oven for 20 to 25 minutes.
While the fish bakes, prepare the rice and salad.
Place the rice with a cup of water in a microwavable bowl. Cook on HIGH, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Take out the rice, add the coconut milk, some salt and pepper and stir lightly. Cover. Return to the microwave and cook on MEDIUM for five minutes. Leave in the microwave to allow the rice to finish cooking in its own steam.
Ideally, the fish and the rice should finish cooking at the same time. Make the salad so that it is freshly made by the time you assemble your dish.
Cut the tomatoes into 1-cm. cubes. Scrape the seeds off the cucumber and cut the flesh into 1-cm. cubes as well. Finely slice the chili. Cut the mango flesh into 1-cm. cubes. Place all of them in a bowl. Squeeze the lemon juice over them. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add the roughly chopped cilantro and toss everything lightly.
Assemble your dish. Place a mound of rice on one side of the plate. Lay a generous amount of fish beside it. Smother with the salad and have a lovely, lovely meal.
A 1.4 kilogram fish is enough for four to five people. Speedy and I didn’t finish the entire fish and I’ll have to get creative with the leftover tomorrow.
If you cook the rice in a regular rice cooker, just add the turmeric powder, coconut milk, salt, pepper and a cup of water and stir before cooking.
More recipes with talakitok in the archive:
Cooking time (duration): 30 minutes
Number of servings (yield): 2