Sunday, November 18, 2012

Grilled Fish in coconut sauce (samaki wa kupaka)

                                           Fish in coconut sauce with chapati
                                        YouTube Channel: Stella's Meza
So anyone who knows me knows that I like my fish. I like it baked, fried, curried, you name it. My favourite way of enjoying this versatile dish however, is cooked in coconut sauce. In Kenya, we call this "Samaki wa kupaka". That loosely translates to fish that has been covered/smothered. I know what some of you might be thinking-what a strange combination! I know, I know! But trust me when I tell you that the taste gods were in a happy state of mind when they bestowed this dish upon humankind. The heady flavors of cumin and cinnamon combined with the subtly sweet coconut milk and the heat from the peppers make for a delicious, tender, flaky dish of fish (that last rhyme wasn't planned-promise :) ). Eating this transports you to a tropical retreat somewhere in the confines of your mind. Were palm trees gently sway to the whispering ocean breeze as you watch the turquoise ocean water gently break it's waves at your feet on that white sandy beach. You get the picture? This is THAT dish. Let me be your guide through this culinary safari. No passports or visas required. 

SERVING SIZE:
8-4 people (depending on their appetite).

SPECIAL EQUIPMENT:
-Grill pan.
-Fish turner.
-Baking dish.
-Blender.

INGREDIENTS:
-8 fillets of fish (I used tilapia).
-1 teaspoon of ginger paste (can be found in the Asian section of the grocery store).
-1 teaspoon of garlic paste (can be found in the produce section of the grocery store).
-juice of 2 lemons or 2 tablespoons of tamarind paste (can be purchased in Indian food store or online).
-2 tablespoons of vegetable oil.
-1/2 teaspoon of cumin powder.
-1/4 teaspoon of Cinnamon powder.
-pinch of salt (I use kosher salt).
-1 teaspoon of garam masala (can be found in international aisle of grocery store or purchased online).


TO PREPARE THE FISH (MARINATING THE FISH):
-In a mixing bowl, combine the oil, lemon juice, garlic paste, ginger paste, salt, cumin powder, cinnamon powder and garam masala. Whisk well to combine all the ingredients. Place the fish in the bowl and coat on both sides with the marinade. Cover the bowl, refrigerate and allow to marinate for at least 3 hours.

FOR SAUCE:
-1 medium-sized onion,finely chopped or diced.
-1/2 habanero pepper, seeds removed (you can use a whole pepper and leave in the seeds if you like your food hot).
-1 can coconut milk (13.5 fl Oz.).

****WHEN READY TO COOK, PUT YOUR GRILL PAN ON THE STOVE AND HEAT IT UP ON MEDIUM HEAT.*****

INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE SAUCE:
-In a blender, put in the diced onion, pepper and 2-3 tablespoons of coconut milk taken from the canned coconut milk and puree until smooth.
-In a medium-sized pot, pour the coconut milk and turn the heat up to medium. Add the onion/pepper paste and stir. Let simmer until the sauce begins to thicken.
-Once the sauce thickens, add the garam masala, stir for two minutes and turn off the heat. Cover the sauce and set aside.
****PREHEAT THE OVEN AT THIS POINT.PUT IT ON 350 DEGREES FAHRENHEIT ******
INSTRUCTIONS FOR COOKING THE FISH:
-start placing the fillets of fish on the grill, 1inch apart from each other. Grill each piece for 5-8mins on each side until it turns white and is no longer looks pink or raw (use the fish turner to gently turn the fillets over).
-As the fish is done cooking, transfer all of them to the baking dish and gently pour the coconut sauce over the fish.
-Twirl the dish around in order to spread the sauce evenly (do not stir with a spoon as it will break the fillets!)
-Use a wooden spoon to remove any stuck-on fish pieces that were left over on the grill pan. Put these pieces in the baking dish over the fish (this will add texture and flavor to the fish).
-Now transfer the fish to the center rack of the oven and bake uncovered for 20-25 mins.
Sere hot over a bed of rice or mashed potatoes or enjoy with ugali or chapati. YUM!!