Friday, June 10, 2011

Oven-braised Basa in Tomato Coconut Sauce

Still saucy and brilliant colored even in low light!

This hot weather makes me crave fish, tropical fruit, veggies, and all things fresh and even a little bit exotic. Caribbean flavors work great for dining under the blazing sun. Whether it's fruity, curried, sweet and spicy, seafod-inspired, or grilled and glazed, they all just seem to work great after a hot day. Here is a recipe inspired by a traditional Dominican recipe for red snapper.  I have adjusted the ratio of tomatoes and coconut and ditched the mercury-laden snapper for mild and ecological basa fillet.

Basa fillet also known as swai, is a fish listed as a "Best Choice" option by Seafood Watch. The mercury levels are low, the farming methods are ecological, and the price for mine was 7.99/lb, which I consider a fresh seafood steal.

The ingredients are simple and this is a pleasure to make--very little chopping. The tomato-coconut  sauce is balanced and delicious and just may be a recurring theme in my 2011 summer kitchen. I am seriously considering rice and beans in this sauce.

Oven-braised Basa in Tomato-Coconut Sauce
Serves 4

1 1/2 lb-2lb basa fillets, rinsed and patted dry with fillets sliced into thirds or smaller chunks
Juice of 2 limes

2 T extra virgin olive oil
3 t minced fresh garlic
1 med. White onion, sliced into thin sauté slices
1 lg celery stalk, julienne
1 can tomato paste
1 can coconut milk
1 vegetable bouillon cube (get the health food store kind--no msg/additives)
2 bay leaves
1 large tomato, seeded and julienned

2 c cooked long-grain brown rice

½ c chopped cilantro

Squeeze lime juice over fish fillets, using ½ lime per fillet. Set aside.

In a deep skillet, heat oil on medium. Cook garlic, onion, and celery for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in tomato paste and cook 2 minutes, while stirring and mashing paste up.

Add coconut milk, bouillon, and bay leaves. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, and incorporating coconut milk into tomato paste and dissolving bouillion.

Stir in sliced tomatoes, and add fillets, skin side up, gently pushing them into the sauce. Simmer 5 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork.

Transfer fish to a warm plate and cover. 

Turn up heat and reduce sauce about 5 minutes, or until slightly thickened. 

Serve fish and rice with sauce ladled over. Garnish with chopped cilantro.


Bernie said...

I made this tonight...YUM!
Thank you soo much you are a wonderful cook! :)

Anonymous said...

How come it's called "oven-braised" when it's all done on the stove top???

Tried making this tonight. It was OK. But the overall effect was similar to just pouring a can of Campbell's tomato soup on top of the fish.

Captain Wildchild said...

Bland and sour.

Salvageable with salt, pepper, molasses, and copious amounts of cumin, cayenne and oregano.

Oh yes, and MSG ;P