Tilapia is an easy dish to make, but can often times seem too simple. It is time to juice it up with this recipe. It’s an easy dish to make and these sides will surprise everyone around you.
Why coconut? Coconut milk is easy to find in supermarkets and it’s tasty, though often on the sweet side, this recipe will balance the flavor to create a great sauce that you’ll want to eat it even by itself.
Why coconut rice? Because it complements the fish nicely and goes well with the sauce as well.
Why fried plantain? Well, basically… Why not? Give it a try, it’s not something you have every day, but will definitely leave you wanting more.
For this specific recipe the idea was to recall the yummy flavors of the Caribbean. The coconut milk and coconut rice are fairly common in South American meals, but also in Thai and Asian foods. Making this a great mix of flavors that creates a perfect balance.
By choosing tilapia and shrimp we save some time, but also pick two sea foods that go well together. Though most people think of fish matching better with pasta or another side dish, in the Caribbean, rice is key, and this is why we choose it as a side.
Because I was left wanting more, I came up with fried plantains, a must in Caribbean meals, and a tasty side bland enough to absorb the sauce perfectly.
Are you ready to embark on this Caribbean journey? Not to worry, it’s easier than it seems and fun to make. Get ready for a flavorful dish!
Tilapia with Coconut and Shrimp Sauce, Coconut Rice and Fried Plantains
Servings: 6 / Prep Time: 20 minutes / Cooking Time: 50 minutes
Ingredients for fish:
- 1 white onion
- 4 garlic cloves
- 6 tilapia fillets
- 1 red bell pepper
- 4 tomatoes
- 14oz (1 can) coconut milk
- ½ lb shrimp, cleaned and peeled
- ¼ cup cilantro
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- Salt and pepper to taste
Ingredients for rice
- ¼ cup coconut paste (also called titoté)
- 2 cups white rice
- 4 cups water
- 1 teaspoon oil
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
Tip: I will include directions for an alternative to store-bought coconut paste so you can make your own!
Ingredients for fried plantains:
- 1 plantain
- ½ cup oil
- 1 avocado (Optional)
- 1 Cutting board
- 1 sharp knife
- 2 skillets
- 1 deep pan for frying
- 1 pot
For Tilapia and Sauce
Step 1: Lay all your vegetables on the cutting board. Chop onion, tomatoes and red bell pepper into squares. Here’s a tip on how to chop onion. Add oil to skillet and sauté them on low heat.
Step 2: Wash tilapia and put it on a plate. Separately, wash your shrimp and put them on another plate too.
Step 3: Add coconut milk to sauteed vegetables. Add the cumin and paprika and mix together.
Step 4: On a separate skillet, add 1 teaspoon oil, as well as minced garlic (see how to do this here) and sauté shrimp for about 3 minutes. While doing this, add tilapia to vegetables and coconut sauce. After shrimp are done, add them to fish and sauce as well.
Your tilapia with coconut and shrimp sauce will be ready after about 4 minutes.
For Coconut Rice
Add 2 cups water to pot. Immediately add the sugar, oil and coconut paste. This paste is sold here, and in some supermarkets, but can be easily made by pouring 3 cups coconut milk into a pan and letting it boil on high heat, once it has boiled reduce to medium or low heat. The liquid will become a solid of coconut chunks after about 45 minutes.
Once the water is warm, add rice. Cover your pot and let it sit for about 20 minutes. Remove lid and mix together, your coconut rice should look light brown.
For Fried Plantains
Step 1: Add oil to frying skillet.
Step 2: While oil is getting hot, cut your plantain into thin circles. Once oil is hot–after about 5 minutes–carefully place your plantain circles.
Step 3: After around 2.5 minutes, flip your plantains so they get crispy on both sides. Remove them after another 2.5 minutes. Drain them well and place on top of a plate with a kitchen towel on top to drain all excessive fat.
Now that your tilapia and sauce are ready, serve your coconut rice and plantains with it! We recommend making the rice first, as it takes the longest. You can make your plantains while the tilapia is cooking.
Tip: Add the chopped cilantro to the sauce when serving to give it a better kick.
Did you enjoy making this dish?
I hope you found this recipe easy and fun! If you have trouble making the coconut rice, try substituting 3 cups of the water with 3 cups of coca cola instead of using the coconut paste. Although it sounds weird, it actually gives the rice a nice and sweet flavor, of course, forget about the sugar if you are going with this style instead.
You can also change up the vegetables to your preference. Perhaps try, tomatoes and sweet corn with some lime juice instead. No matter what you choose, the coconut milk and spices will give it a great flavor.
If you don’t find plantains, try some fried yucca and add sour cream on top for more flavoring. In case you can’t find any of these, buy some small potatoes and peel them. Boil them and cut into quarters, then sauté them in butter and added chopped parsley.
I suggest adding a slice of avocado to your plate for an even more Caribbean result. But this is optional, and meant to complement. Serve it all together and enjoy!
Let me know what you thought of this recipe on the comments below, and please, don’t hesitate to ask any questions. This is an easy recipe that will turn out to be a family favorite!