A cooking and baking journal

Baking Fish for the First Time

2/7/10: Baked Costa Rican-Style Tilapia with Pineapple, Black Beans, and Rice with French Bread on the Side

Meal details: For the main course I made a baked fish dish that included pineapple, black beans, rice, lemon, orange juice, and more. For a side, I baked two loaves of French bread.

Defining moments: First time for me with cooking fish (I've only eaten it before!), using black beans, and marinating.

Recipe sources: The fish recipe was created by Ingrid Hoffman, the host of Simply Delicioso on Food Network. I chose this fish recipe specifically for the FNCCC (Food Network Chef Cooking Challenge) that is being hosted by the I Blame My Mother blog. And the French bread recipe came from the February/March 2010 issue of Taste of Home magazine. Here is the recipe:

French Loaves
  • 2 Tbsp. active dry yeast
  • 2 cups warm water (110F to 115F)
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 4 1/2 to 5 cups bread flour
  • 1 tsp. cornmeal
  1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add the salt, sugar and 2 cups flour. Beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.
  2. Turn onto a floured surface; kneed until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
  3. Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; divide in half. Shape into 12-in.-long loaves.
  4. Place seam side down on a greased baking sheet. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes. Sprinkle with cornmeal. With a sharp knife, make four shallow slashes across the top of each loaf. Bake at 450F for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.
What I learned: Ahem. I learned how to cook fish. Period. I never thought I would do fish--the job is usually given to my brother--so I am very proud of having chosen this recipe. Anything else in particular this week? Ya know, putting together this fish dish was not too far off from the ordinary for me. Sort of like making a casserole, in a way. Perhaps the marinating part? Nah. I've seen that old, ziplock bag trick so many times on Food Network, that when the time came for me to do it, it felt like deja vu.

Any modifications? Yes, to both recipes. For the fish recipe, I didn't use cilantro (not available here right now), used bass and bluegill fillets instead of tilapia (the fish were caught by us!), and used lemons in replace of limes. I also baked it for 45 minutes instead of 30; longer baking time could have been caused by thicker fillets--not too sure. I mean, I never saw tilapia before!
For the bread recipe, I added two cups of whole wheat flour to the dough and 1 tablespoon of vital wheat gluten. The whole wheat was added because a) I like the flavor, b) more fiber and nutrients, and c), I want to use it up. The vital wheat gluten isn't really "vital" for this recipe since there is bread flour added too, but I just wanted to make sure since I've never really changed a bread recipe before.

How it tasted? I didn't find one morsel left of either! I couldn't find one complaint anywhere. The fish were moist, tender, and perfectly cooked. The rice, black beans, salsa, pineapple bottom layer was very flavorful and had wonderful texture. The bread rose and baked just fine (no problem caused by my addition of whole wheat), and it had a chewy crumb and a soft crust.

How about a 2nd time? Yes!!!!!! And maybe I'll try using some Northern Pike that my brother caught this winter. Yummy!

1 comment:

  1. That fish sounds absolutely amazing. I'm going to give it a try! Most tilapia fillets I've had are pretty thin. I broil them for about 10 minutes and that's generally enough (if that gives you any indication).