Baked Tilapia in Red Curry Sauce

Tilapia gets a bad rap in my opinion, and there are probably reasons why. They get a bad rap for many reasons, however being surrounded by many Filipino family members, tilapia seems to be the default fish of choice, and probably for many reasons. But to be honest, it’s a fish that we tend to enjoy, whether it be baked, fried, grilled, or even put into a soup.  So recently I purged some items in our freezer, and tilapia was one of those items. I decided to come up with something new, yet something familiar for the family to try. Baked tilapia in a red curry sauce.

Baked Tilapia in Red Curry Sauce Recipe
Baked Tilapia in Red Curry Sauce Recipe

I knew all of my kids loved fish, and many of us love the red curry and coconut curry that I often make with chicken, vegetables, and rice. So this tilapia dish was not stretching too far from the meal rotation.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 6 skinless tilapia fillets, rinsed and patted dry
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 2 tbsp red curry paste (use more if you desire a bit more heat)
  • 14 oz can of coconut milk
  • large handful of fresh green beans, trimmed
  • 1/2 cup pearl onions, optional
  • salt, to taste
  • cracked black pepper, to taste
  • 1 lime, juiced

This dish is a one skillet recipe, which is nice not only for the cooking process, but also for the cleanup.

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees.

During this time, heat a large skillet on medium heat. Add the oil, and then add in the curry paste. Use a wooden spoon and mix in that curry paste, breaking it down. Take in the aroma. I love that aroma. Add in the coconut milk and continue to break in the curry paste.

During this time, season the tilapia filets with a bit of salt and pepper and place into the oven to cook for about 10 minutes.

Tilapia with Red Curry Sauce
Tilapia with Red Curry Sauce

Once the sauce comes to a simmer, remove the fillets from the oven and add the fillets to the sauce.

Toss in the green beans and the pearl onions.

Give a gentle mix, then move the skillet into the oven to finish cooking, about 5-10 minutes. This will allow the fish to fully cook, and thicken up the sauce a bit.

Remove, plate, and squeeze on the fresh lime juice. Enjoy!

Lechon Kawali

Snack, Crackle, Pop. Repeat. I’ve said this before but Filipino food is on the rise, and much like many top chefs have predicted, Filipino food will begin to surprise you. If you have never had Filipino food, just give it a try. Granted, I have yet to find a sweet Filipino dessert that I like (but then again I do not like many desserts as I am not a sweet tooth), but the savory dishes are to die for. This one might be the one to top it off. There are many common, top, Filipino dishes that you might already be aware of such as Pancit, lumpia, or even Kare Kare, but there is one that is top notch, and that is lechon kawali.

Your cardiologist may not like you after this, nor probably your primary physician, but in moderation, this Filipino crispy pork is so simple to make, and makes a perfect party food. Traditionally made with pork belly, you can also try it with pork ribs just make sure you have plenty of fat to render on the second cooking cycle. Yep, there are two cooking steps going on here.

Filipino Lechon Kawali Recipe
Filipino Lechon Kawali Recipe

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs boneless pork belly, cut into 2 inch long strips
  • 1 head of garlic, skins removed, bulbs smashed
  • 4 whole bay leaves
  • 3 tbsp black peppercorns
  • 3/4 cup soy sauce
  • water
  • salt
  • canola oil
  • dipping sauce
    • White Vinegar, to your liking
    • Soy sauce, to your liking
    • Chopped garlic, to your liking
    • cracked black pepper, to your liking
    • 1 Thai birds eye chili, smashed, optional or Thai chili flakes

I recently made this for my son’s birthday party, as well as another Filipino gathering and both times they rocked the socks off of the party guests. You know you’ve done right when the Filipinos are giving you a thumbs up, a hug, or a high five after eating your food. This is a winner.

Start by adding the pork belly, garlic, bay leaves, peppercorns, soy sauce, and enough water to cover the pork belly into a large pot or dutch oven. Cover, and bring to a simmer, cooking for about 1 hour. This is to tenderize the pork, and infuse all of the great flavor from those aromatics.

Filipino Lechon Kawali Recipe Ingredients
Filipino Lechon Kawali Recipe Ingredients

After 1 hour or so, get a baking sheet out and line it with a wire rack.

Take the strips of pork belly and lay them on the rack, making sure any of the excess liquid goes back into the pot. Once the strips are laid out, lightly salt them with kosher salt. This will assist with the dehydration process and get them ready for the next step the following day, if not hours later in the day.

Place the baking sheet, uncovered in the refrigerator. I do this over night.

Filipino Lechon Kawali Recipe
Filipino Lechon Kawali Recipe

When you are ready to go with the next step, take the pork out of the refrigerator and cut them into bite sized cubes, about 1-2 inches in size. Go larger if you prefer.

Heat a pot of oil, about 2-3 cups of canola oil, in a medium sized pot, and bring this to about 350-375 degrees.

In batches, fry the pork. This should take about 5-7 minutes per batch. Once golden and the fat is rendered and crispy, remove with a slotted spoon or kitchen spyder and place onto a paper lined plate to remove any excess oil. Let the oil in the pot come back to temp, then repeat until the lechon kawali is cooked.

NOTE: If you are frying these bad boys, make sure you reserve some for yourself because if you turn your back, trust me, these babies will be gone. This happened to me when I brought them to a party for our friend Miguel to chop up and fry. I didn’t even get a single piece! No worries on that part however, as I know that when I am snacking with the family, that I am sure to get a few pieces.

And that dipping sauce? Go for it. The combination of garlic, vinegar, soy, and chili. That’s a whole other level when it comes to dipping sauce.

If you are looking for a great party appetizer, and don’t mind frying with a bit of oil, this one is sure to please and is a real crowd pleaser not only for those wanting to try some Filipino flavors, but for those who love great, easy food. Hope you enjoy!

Garlic Cilantro Lime Dip

I’m a real sucker for sauces, salsas, and dips. I can’t say that everyone else in my family is the same that way. So as I typically do, I scavenge through my refrigerator looking for things that can be used up, or things that I can come up with in terms of new ideas. I remember this clearly. It was taco Tuesday night at my house. Who can forget taco Tuesday’s right? This is when I found some cilantro and some sour cream that needed to be used before it went bad. Are you like me when it comes to sour cream? You use a tablespoon or so, then it sits there only for you to keep looking at the expiration date? Well, no more!

Garlic Cilantro Lime Dip Recipe
Garlic Cilantro Lime Dip Recipe

This recipe is way too simple to put together and lasts a handful of days in the refrigerator. It’s great on tacos, baked potatoes, and drizzled probably on anything that sour cream would lend a hand to.

Let’s get started.

  • 1 cup of sour cream
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, washed and chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 whole lime, juiced
  • salt to taste

That’s it! What is not to love about that!

Add the cilantro, garlic, and lime juice to a food processor. Pulse and spin that baby until everything is nice and fine.

Garlic and Cilantro Lime Dip Ingredients
Garlic and Cilantro Lime Dip Ingredients

Add the sour cream to a bowl and fold in the garlic, cilantro, and lime mixture. Give it a good stir until everything is nice and smooth. Give a taste, and season with salt.

Hope you enjoy!

Nam Prik Kapi

Many of you may or may not have heard of Nam Prik Kapi. I was introduced to this funky Thai spicy shrimp paste dip years ago so I thought I would share it with you. Some of these ingredients may be foreign to you, especially the Thai shrimp paste (and trust me this stuff is funky but awesome).

Nam Prik Kapi Recipe
Nam Prik Kapi Recipe

The ingredients are minimal, but the flavor impact is something out of this world. A pestle and mortar works best for this, and I have not tried using a food processor, but feel free if you decide to make this recipe.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 15-20 Thai bird chili peppers, stems removed
  • 1 head of garlic, skin removed
  • 3 limes, juiced
  • 2 tbsp palm sugar (or light brown sugar if you do not have any)
  • 3 tbsp Thai shrimp paste
  • 2 whole shallots, skins removed, lightly chopped

As with many Thai dishes, you need to balance out the sour, spice, and bitterness. This one uses 20 Thai chilies, which if you can imagine is going to make it pretty spicy, but that’s how I like it. The goal here is to come up with a light and loose paste, nothing majorly thick.

Start by pounding your garlic, chilies, and shallots in a mortar and pestle. Your goal is to make a paste. This is the labor intensive part, as it takes about 10-15 minutes and will use some arm strength. Once you have a paste, add the shrimp paste and palm sugar, and continue pounding. I find it best to use a spoon along with the pestle to lift from the bottom and keep pounding.

Nam Prik Paki Recipe
Nam Prik Paki Recipe

The final step is to add the juice of the limes. Add enough lime juice to ensure a loose paste. Add more lime juice if you have to.

Now taste and adjust. It will be spicy. It will be tangy. It will be a bit funky.

Serve this alongside fried fish, omelettes, or lightly steamed vegetables. This stores nicely as well, and a little goes a long way. If you are looking for something new to try, give this one a shot. It’s probably one of Thai’s more famous dipping sauces. Hope you enjoy!