A tweaked version of an original recipe by my dear friend Aasiya, this Pan Seared Tilapia with Tamarind Sauce will not disappoint! Although the original version was absolutely delightful and completely shareworthy on it's own, it's just in my innate nature to tweak and alter any recipe. She has kindly allowed me to share the recipe with you and I highly encourage you to try this one.
I chose to go with Tilapia as my family is not generally big on fish and this is probably the mildest variety there is. A few others that I like and often go with when cooking fish are Mahi Mahi and Grouper. My friend Aasiya made her original recipe with Basa Loins and I have been tempted to try it with Chilean Sea Bass as well.
If using Tilapia, do be sure to check where the fish has been sourced from. Finding wild caught Tilapia can be difficult, but where the Tilapia was farmed is key to it's quality. According to healthline.com the best Tilapia farms are based in the USA, Canada, Netherlands, Ecuador and Peru.
The Recipe For The Tilapia With Tamarind Sauce
The key ingredient in the sauce is tamarind. The sour taste pairs beautifully with the sharp ginger, sweet bell peppers and mild tasting Tilapia. Usually, the acidity in tamarind acts as a meat tenderizer. However, when cooking fish or chicken in it one has to be careful as it can chemically cook the meat.
For this reason it's best to make the sauce and set it aside. Once you saute the fish you can drizzle the sauce over it at the end.
Tilapia is a very fragile fish and breaks apart easily. For presentations sake it's best to add the sauce and other ingredients at the end.
The ginger brings out the sharp notes in the tamarind sauce and the sweet bell pepper helps mellow the overall acidity a bit. The brown sugar adds a light caramel tone and takes away from the heat of the chilies a bit. Of course, the chilies are entirely optional and you're welcome to omit them if preferred.
The peanuts and sesame seeds add a slightly nutty tone to the finished product and you can't go wrong with the sweet scent of basil.
Hope you try and like the recipe! Don't forget to rate and comment below to let me know what you thought of it.
Pan Seared Tilapia With Tamarind Sauce
- 6 filets tilapia (SEE NOTES)
- 1 cup tamarind pulp
- ½ cup water
- ½ cup soy sauce
- ¼ cup fish sauce
- ¼ cup dark brown sugar
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tsp garlic paste
- 1 tbsp corn flour (SEE NOTES)
- ¼ cup water (SEE NOTES)
- 2 inch piece ginger
- 1 bunch green onions
- 10 leaves basil
- 1 red bell pepper
- 3 thai red chillies (SEE NOTES)
- 2 tbsp peanuts
- 1 tsp sesame seeds
- Soak the 1 cup tamarind pulp in the ½ cup water and filter to make a paste. Discard any seeds and fibre.
- Whisk together the tamarind paste, soy sauce and brown sugar and set aside.
- Slice the ginger into thin slivers and set aside.
- Slice the bell pepper and discard the seeds.
- Chop the green onions and basil leaves.
- Roast the peanuts and crush them.
- Heat the olive oil and saute the garlic for 30 seconds.
- Add the liquid mixture and cook for 1 minute.
- Add ⅔ of the bell peppers, ginger, and green onions (reserving the rest for later) to the liquid and cook for about 1 minute.
- Add the thai chillies, stir and add the cornstarch slurry to thicken the sauce and set aside.
- In a separate pan saute the fish till it's seared well and cooked through.
- Plate the fish, pour the sauce over it and garnish with the remaining peppers, ginger, onions, peanuts, sesame seeds and chopped basil leaves.
- Serve with rice!