Coconut and coconut products, including gata or the liquid extracted from grated coconut meat, have gotten so much bad press in the past for their alleged high fat content. There’s been a coconut oil fad lately with its movers and shakers claiming that virgin coconut oil is practically a cure-all for just about any ailment.
There was this doctor on the news a few days ago saying that there has been no sufficient study to prove the health benefits of virgin coconut oil. Well, that’s not the same as saying the benefits are illusory. They might be illusory. A lot of people are suckers for miracle cures. But it is quite possible that doctors are resisting because the fad is bad for the medical and pharmaceutical business.
My position is this: Filipinos along with the natives of dozens of other tropical countries have been coconut consumers for centuries, and high blood pressure and other related ailments have not been a real problem until the fast food culture, along with the addiction to processed food (including canned meat, hotdogs, chicken nuggets, etc.), became a way of life in the Philippines. In short, I don’t care about whatever bad press there may be against coconut and its by-products. I love coconuts and so does my whole family. And those who have not experienced coconuts for having been pre-empted by the bad press do not know what they’re missing.
Tokwa’t isda sa gata (fish and tofu in coconut milk) may not sound kid-friendly but my kids love anything with gata. They even prefer their abobo with gata. My younger daughter isn’t a big fan of tofu although she’s a fish and gata lover just like the rest of the family. They’re all going to enjoy this dish, for sure.
500 g. of fish fillet (I used blue marlin fillets but any fleshy fish will be good)
1 large cake of tokwa (firm tofu)
half a head of garlic
1 large white onion
2 plump and juicy tomatoes
2 chilies (siling haba)
1 tbsp. of chopped wansuy (cilantro)
1 c. of coconut cream or thick coconut milk
2 c. of vegetable cooking oil
salt or patis
Cooking procedure :
Cut the fish fillets into 1-inch cubes. Season with salt.
Cut the tofu into 1-inch cubes.
Peel, mash and mince the garlic. Finely slice the onion. Dice the tomatoes.
Cut the chilies vertically in half. Scrape off the seeds and membranes and discard. Cut the chilies diagonally into thin strips.
Heat the cooking oil in a fryer until it starts to smoke. Fry the tofu cubes until browned. Drain on paper towels and keep warm.
Pour off the cooking oil until only about 2 tablespoonfuls remain. Saute the garlic and chilies for 15 seconds. Add the onion and tomatoes and cook for another 10 seconds. Add the fish and stir. Add the tried tofu. Pour in the coconut milk. Season with a little salt or patis. Cook gently over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes, uncovered, or just until the fish is cooked through.
Off the heat, stir in the chopped wansuy. Leave for about 10 minutes to allow the flavors to infuse. Serve with hot rice.