You might think, that living on a Caribbean island, we eat a lot of seafood. As city dwellers in Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince, seafood can be surprisingly hard to find. Safe and efficient supply chains to carry fresh seafood from port to table are a challenge with Haiti's limited infrastructure; roads, refrigeration and factories. So when we spotted some locally farmed tilapia filets in the grocery recently, we were excited and inspired. A little bottle of saffron sat in our larder, a present from past visitors, and our pantry yielded fresh tomatoes, garlic and fresh thyme. Thus a Spanish influenced Saffron and Garlic Poached Tilapia was created. This light fish dish is subtle, sweet and flaky, a great way to highlight a mild flavored fish.
Yield: Serves 4
- 4 tilapia fillets, cleaned and patted dry
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 2 small onions, finely diced
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 head garlic (8-10 cloves), finely diced
- 4 medium tomatoes, diced
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme (or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme)
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 pinch saffron ('bloomed' in 1 tablespoon of hot water for 15 minutes)
- 2 cups water
- Add butter, onions, and salt to a wide sauce pan. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently until softened and starting to turn translucent (3-5 minutes)
- Add the garlic and continue cooking for 2-3 minutes more, stirring frequently.
- Increase the heat to high and add the tomatoes. Cook over high heat, stirring frequently until the water from the tomatoes has evaporated (about 3-5 more minutes).
- Reduce the heat to low and add the thyme, black pepper, saffron (bloomed first in 1 tablespoon of hot water), and water. Simmer for 5 minutes to let the flavors meld.
- Add the tilapia fillets and slowly simmer, flipping once during cooking, until they are cooked through (the center should lose its translucency and begin to flake apart).
- Serve the tilapia hot, with generous spoonfuls of the poaching sauce. We like ours served over rice.