Whew, sorry guys -- another long break in posts! This has been a crazy few months...getting engaged, looking for jobs, working on finishing up my dissertation...so much going on. I can now check one of those things off my list: we are officially moving to Boston in June! If you know the area and have any recommendations, please let me know in the comments. I am looking forward to lots of lobster rolls and clam chowder in my future.
Now, on to a meal I made a while back and never managed to post. I have to admit: while I was making this meal, I did have a couple of moments of "Why did I decide to make something so complicated for dinner tonight?!" This isn't the most complicated thing I've ever cooked, but it does feel like it when you're hungry. :) But, once I tasted the food, I decided it was well worth all the effort, because this dish is amazing. Just save it for a weekend!
The fish is cooked really simply, and then paried up with more complex sides. The slaw is creamy, crunchy, and peanutty in the best way possible. I sometimes find peanut butter-based dressings to be overwhelming, but this one is perfectly balanced. Word of warning: while some slaws keep beautifully, this one was definitely best the night it was made. I probably wouldn't try to keep leftovers for more than a day or two. Also adding crunch to the meal were millet pancakes. The millet is cooked first to soften it up a bit, but it still provides a nice little crunch when stirred into a batter with scallions and fried up in hot oil. The dipping sauce isn't strictly necessary -- in a pinch, you could just use soy sauce -- but it is really tasty and makes the meal feel extra special.
Baked Tilapia with Millet-Scallion Pancakes and Peanut Slaw (adapted from Taste of Home, Bon Appetit, and Heart of the Plate)
For the pancakes:
3/4 cup millet
2 large eggs
6 T buttermilk
3 T cornstarch
1 T toasted sesame oil
6 scallions, thinly sliced on an angle, divided
Vegetable oil, for frying
For the slaw:
1/3 cup minced red onion
5 cups thinly sliced cabbage (from about 1-1/4 pounds)
2 T sugar
2 T cider vinegar
1 tsp kosher salt
2 T smooth peanut butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1 large carrot, peeled and grated
1/2 cup chopped peanuts
For the dipping sauce:
1/3 cup soy sauce
3 T unseasoned rice vinegar
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp sesame seeds
1 tsp Sriracha (more or less to taste)
For the tilapia:
4 tilapia fillets (or sub another white fish)
Salt and pepper
1. Cook the millet for the pancakes. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and add the millet along with a few generous pinches of salt. Simmer until tender, 15-20 minutes. Drain off the water using a fine-mesh strainer, and then spread out the millet on a flat surface (such as a large rimmed baking sheet) to cool.
2. Make the slaw. Place the red onion in a small bowl, and cover with boiling water. Set aside.
3. Place the cabbage in a large salad bowl. Sprinkle with the sugar, vinegar, and salt, and toss to combine.
4. In a small bowl, whisk together the peanut butter, garlic, and 2-3 T boiling water (enough to make a smooth sauce). Pour over the cabbage and toss to combine. Drain the water off the onions and add to the cabbage, along with the grated carrot. Toss again to combine everything well, and stash in the fridge until ready to serve.
5. Make the dipping sauce. Whisk the dipping sauce ingredients together in a small bowl.
6. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and set aside.
7. Make the pancake batter. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, cornstarch, and toasted sesame oil. Add all of the millet along with about 3/4 of the scallions, and stir to combine. Set aside.
8. Stir the remaining 1/4 scallions into the dipping sauce, and set aside.
9. Cook the fish. Grease the foil-lined baking sheet with a bit of olive oil, and then arrange the tilapia in a single layer. Rub each piece of fish with a bit more oil, and then season with salt and pepper. Pop in the pre-heated oven and bake 10-15 minutes, until the fish is opaque in the middle and flakes easily.
10. While the fish is cooking, cook the pancakes. Heat your most non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, and add about 2 T of vegetable oil. When the oil is hot, scoop three large spoonfuls of batter into the skillet, and use the back of your spoon to flatten them a bit. Cook about three minutes on each side, until both sides are nicely browned and crisp. Remove the pancakes to a paper towel-lined plate. Repeat with the rest of the batter in two more batches to get 9 total pancakes. The batter may separate a bit as it sits, so be sure to stir well before scooping each batch of pancakes.
11. Toss the chopped peanuts into the slaw.
12. On each plate, place a couple of pancakes, a piece of fish, and a big scoop of slaw. Either drizzle the pancakes with the dipping sauce and/or use it for dipping the pancakes and fish.