This baked tilapia recipe is Thai delicious and easy to make. While this same dish would be steamed in Thailand, I find baking it easier and the results just as delicious. This tilapia recipe features the dark richness of tamarind, which is a fruit that grows in many parts of Asia. Make it easy on yourself and buy the prepared tamarind paste at a Chinese, Asian, or Indian food store. The sauce is a combination of sweet and sour, with notes of chili, garlic, and ginger. Note that other types of white-fleshed fish will work with this recipe if you can't find tilapia, such as cod, sole, snapper, etc.... ENJOY!
- 2 to 3 fillets tilapia (or other white-fleshed fish like cod, sole, snapper, etc...)
- 1 handful coriander (fresh)
- 3 spring onions (sliced)
- For the Tamarind Sauce:
- 1 tablespoon tamarind paste (available by the jar at Chinese, Asian, or Indian food stores)
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 tablespoons palm sugar (or brown sugar or substitute 1 1/2 tablespoons white sugar; adjust to taste)
- 3/4 teaspoon shrimp paste (available by the jar at Asian/Chinese food stores)
- 3 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1/3 cup coriander (fresh and chopped; include both stems and leaves)
- 2 teaspoons Nam Prik Pao (or substitute other red chili sauce)
- 4 cloves garlic (minced)
- 1 piece ginger (thumb-sized, grated or cut thinly into strips)
Rinse and pat dry fish. Place fillets in a flat baking dish (preferably one with a tight-fitting cover - or you can use tin foil to cover it).
Place all "Tamarind Sauce" ingredients together in a sauce pan. Gently warm over low to medium heat until you get a uniform consistency.Tip: The amount of sugar in the recipe may seem like too much, but it's needed to balance out the extreme sourness of the tamarind - unless you're one of those people who prefers very sour flavors. The Thai way is to always keep a balance of the 4 big tastes: sweet, sour, spicy, and salty.
Taste-test the sauce, adding more sugar if too sour, or more fish sauce if not salty enough. Also add more chili sauce if you prefer it spicier - again, looking for that special Thai balance of flavors.
Pour 1/4 to 1/3 of the sauce over the fish fillets. Cover the rest and keep warm over minimum heat for later.
Turn the fillets over several times in the sauce/marinade, then cover and bake at 350 for 15 minutes, or until the fish is cooked. Fish is done perfectly when the flesh flakes easily and is no longer translucent. Note that thick fillets may need 20-25 minutes.
When fish is cooked, remove it from the oven. Lift fillets out of the baking dish and place on a serving plate or individual plates. Pour reserved tamarind sauce over, then top with spring onion and fresh coriander. ENJOY!