So many cooks shy away from cooking fish, not realizing how easy it is to serve a beautiful plate, full of flavor, nutrition and color. If you are one of these fish-shy cooks, I hope you to try this recipe for Coconut Fish Fillets with Tropical Fruit Salsa. It is quick and easy and will bring raves your way.
As always, whenever you shop for fish, be an informed consumer. Check first with Monterey Bay Aquarium on the internet to see which species are recommended (a link to this site is on the right of this page). Their best choices are “abundant, well-managed and caught or farmed in environmentally friendly ways”. Tips and suggestions for buying sustainable species can be found at The Pescatarian’s Dilemma.
Coconut Fish Fillets with Tropical Fruit Salsa
- Tropical fruit salsa
- 4 6-oz. filleted, white-fleshed fish, about 1″ thick
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1/2 generous cup bread crumbs or Panko
- 1/2 generous cup dry, unsweetened coconut
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Mild vegetable oil for frying, enough for a depth of 1/4″- 1/2″ in pan
Prepare fruit salsa first. Use any tropical fruit of your choice; I recommend pineapple, papaya or mango. Or a combination of the three. The line can start to blur between fruit salsa and fruit salad, but if you use enough chile, you will keep this dish in the salsa camp. Whichever fruit you use, don’t use garlic. Garlic and fruit do not make happy companions. Chill the salsa in the fridge while you prepare the fish.
Where’s the chile? I forgot it in the photo, but later added a jalapeño, which was so mild, I might as well have forgotten it.
and cilantro, and garnished
with cilantro flowers and wimpy jalapeño.
For the fish: Arrange 3 bowls, one with flour and 1/8 teaspoon salt, one with the beaten egg, and one with coconut, bread crumbs and 1/4 teaspoon salt combined. Heat oil in one large or 2 medium heavy skillets over medium-high heat.
While the pan is heating, cut fillets into serving size pieces, about 6 oz. per serving. Lightly dredge each piece in flour, shaking off excess, then dip in egg, coating completely, then into crumb/coconut mixture. Press coconut mixture into egg if you see areas on the surface where the coconut is not adhering.
When the oil is hot and you can see shimmer patterns across the surface, add fillets to pan, cooking about 4-5 minutes per side for each 1″ of thickness. If your fillets are 1″ thick, you will cook the fillets no longer for 10 minutes total. For thinner or thicker fillets, adjust the time accordingly.
When golden brown, remove fillets from pan and drain on several layers of paper towel to remove excess oil. Serve, topping each piece with fruit salsa.
If you can establish a friendship with a fishmonger or the person behind the counter at a reliable supermarket, you are well on your way to finding the best fish for your recipe. Hopefully, this person should be aware of species sustainability and know the source of the fish.
Fish should be cooked the same day it is purchased, but if you plan on waiting a day or two, place the fish in the coldest part of your fridge. You may want to place the package on a bed of ice, but make sure melting ice won’t seep into the package of fish.
I use a ruler to measure the thickest part of the fillet to judge cooking time. If you are unsure of the thickness and time, under-cook. You can always put it back in the pan, but you can’t undo overcooked fish.
Peeled, large shrimp may be used instead of fish fillets. Leave the tails on. Fry for about 2 minutes per side. Test a shrimp for doneness, but remember, it’s just a test. Dinner is later when all the shrimp are done and you are sitting at the table.
Add a nicely dressed green salad, a crusty loaf of French bread and a bottle of wine and you will have a meal worthy of the late, great Gourmet magazine.