I was recently invited to join the Five Star Makeover cooking group. Every month, the group is challenged to create an original dish using specially chosen theme ingredients. It’ s a great opportunity to get the creative juices flowing in the kitchen; I am excited to be a part of it and to see what is in store for the coming months.
This month’s theme was sustainable fish. A smart topic, I thought, that would be as fun to work with as it is purposeful. Through this dish, not only did I become more aware of overfishing and the importance of opting for sustainable seafood, but now I can spread that knowledge to you.
According to the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch Program, “Nearly 75% of the world's fisheries are fished to capacity, or overfished. Our seafood choices have the power to make this situation worse, or improve it.”
Various fishing methods worldwide put our oceans in peril by endangering fish populations, destroying their habitats, and polluting the water. By choosing to purchase sustainable seafood you no longer contribute to these harmful practices, helping to conserve diverse, healthy and long-lasting ocean ecosystems.
Of course, our personal efforts are only a small advance in a much larger movement. The restaurant and retail stores that sell seafood must be tuned in as well; many have begun, with major companies like Walmart, Whole Foods, and Costco vowing to sell only sustainable.
While I was familiar with the premise of sustainability, I found that when trying to think up a dish, I wasn’t exactly sure of what fish were most sustainable and where I would be most likely to find them. The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch website is a very helpful resource.
As part of their Seafood Watch program, the Monterey Bay Aquarium has developed a list of recommendations for the most sustainably conscious fish to buy in different regions of the United States. They’ve done careful research based on each fish species and the factors that affect them individually, rating as “best choice,” “good alternative,” and “avoid.”
Other than on their website, recommendations are also available in pocket guides and mobile apps.
|Baked Cornflake-Crusted Tilapia with Piña Colada Sauce, & Pickled Mango and Pineapple Relish|
I ended up picking U.S. farmed tilapia, which is one of the most widely available sustainable fish. The piña colada inspiration came from warm, tropical thoughts, and my fidgety anticipation of spring to finally get a move on.
I’ve wanted to cornflake-curst something for the longest, so here she is. The cornflakes don’t take away from the fish at all, especially since it is baked; they just add a nice crunchy consistency. I did not crush my flakes too much, but that was just my preference. For the accompaniments, tangy pineapple and mango relish offsets the sweetness from the sauce, and the simple coconut rice is great for sopping up all that is leftover. So delicious!
Baked Cornflake-Crusted Tilapia with Piña Colada Sauce, &
Pickled Mango and Pineapple Relish:
Yield: 4 Servings
- 4 tilapia fillets
- 1 can coconut milk
- 1 egg
- 1 box cornflake cereal (use as much as needed; crush to desired consistency)
- ½ cup flour
- Salt and pepper
• Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
• Prepare breading procedure: lay out 3 separate vessels with flour seasoned with salt and pepper in one, egg whisked together with coconut milk in another, and cornflakes in another.
• For each tilapia fillet, bread with flour first, then coconut milk mixture, and then cornflakes. Lay on a sheet tray and bake in 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes until the fish is white and flaky.
Piña Colada Sauce:
- ½ pineapple, cubed
- 6 oz pineapple juice
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons minced shallots
- 2 tablespoon coconut milk
- 1 tablespoon rum
- Slurry: (1:1 ratio) 1 tablespoon cornstarch + 1 tablespoon water whisked together
• In a food processor or blender, puree pineapple with pineapple juice; reserve.
• In a small sauce pot, heat butter and add shallots; cook until translucent. Add puree to cooked shallots, and then mix in coconut milk and rum. Bring to a boil.
• Strain the pineapple sauce through a sieve back into a small pot. Bring back to a boil and reduce to a simmer. To thicken, slowly whisk in slurry.
Pickled Manago and Pineapple Relish:
- ½ pineapple, small dice
- 2 mango, small dice - ¼ cup red onion, small dice
- 2 jalapeno, small dice
- Juice of 1 lime
- 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
- 1 cup orange juice
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 8 tablespoons rice vinegar
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro
• In a small sauce pot, bring orange juice, sugar, and rice vinegar up to a boil.
• In the meantime, mix together all ingredients up to grated ginger in a medium bowl. Once the orange juice mixture has come to a boil, pour over. Add cilantro, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours, or up to overnight.
• Spoon sauce onto plate and place tilapia fillet over the top. Serve with the pickled pineapple and mango salsa on the side and coconut rice (recipe follows).
Yield: 4 servings
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup rice
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1 cup chicken broth
- Salt and pepper to taste
• In a small/medium pot, heat butter until melted. Add rice and stir until well-coated with butter. Add the coconut milk, broth, and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for about 20 minutes until done.