It probably comes to no surprise to readers of this blog that I like to keep things simple when I cook…I’ve learned, by trial-and-error mostly, and through years of experience, that too many flavors often (unnecessarily) complicate a dish. This is also true with technique, I think…the simpler the better in my book. Even the father of modern cuisine, Auguste Escoffier, liked to keep things simple. Supposedly one of his common quotes to aspiring cooks was faite simple, or keep (or make) it simple. His book, Le Guide Culinaire, was a major influence on me as a young culinarian, as was Le Repertoire de la Cuisine (written by one of his students) and Larousse Gastronomique (written by a colleague with a forward by Escoffier). Though I have to question whether any of these guys ever made Tilapia with Basmati Rice…probably not the most popular foods 100+ years ago. At any rate, this is how I made this dish…it really is simple and most definitely delicious.
I started by dicing the fish and marinating it in a little soy sauce and cornstarch.
While the fish was marinating I cooked some basmati rice in a little chicken broth that was seasoned with curry powder. The curry gives the rice not only a beautiful yellow hue but also a subtle fullness in flavor to the finished dish. While the rice cooked and the fish marinated I had a glass of wine and read a few pages of the book I’m currently reading (The Shack, by William P. Young…I highly recommend it).
I removed the fish to a plate and added the asparagus, along with 1/2 of a minced onion, a diced piece of green pepper that I had in the refrigerator, and a minced clove of garlic. After sauteing it for a few minutes I seasoned it with a tablespoon (or so) of Thai roasted chili paste.
I came across this chili paste a few weeks ago at The Lexington Co-op. I’ve used this brand curry paste before, and they are good but very spicy (I love spicy food, but these curry pastes are a bit much sometimes). This chili paste, on the other hand is not spicy at all, and it contains, among other things, tamarind, fish sauce, and shrimp, which adds an interesting flavor to the finished dish.
Anyhow, I then added the fish back to the skillet along with some of the rice (which was still warm) and stirred it gently (I added a small amount of water to “loosen” it a bit). And yes…it was as good as it looks (click on any picture for a closer view).