This recipe is a variation on butter poaching, a delicious way to cook tilapia or any whitefish. The idea is to cook the fish slowly, over low heat, with a generous quantity of cooking fat (butter, if you are butter poaching and coconut oil in this case). When cooked, the fish is tender but firm and the flavor of the cooking oil permeates it throughout. I happen to love the flavor of extra virgin coconut oil (especially Tropical Traditions Gold Label Coconut Oil, which is now the only coconut oil I buy). And this coconut oil flavor works beautifully with the Asian flavors in the slaw. If you prefer a milder taste, you could use a naturally refined coconut oil here, or unsalted butter, or any other good cooking fat (tallow, lard, duck fat, bacon fat, or palm oil) or any mixture of these that you enjoy. I used ½” thick fillets of tilapia for this recipe. You could substitute any whitefish. Adjust your cooking time for thicker or thinner fillets (for thicker fillets, you may wish to use more oil too).
If you can’t find Asian pears for the slaw, substitute apple. I use coconut water vinegar in this recipe because the flavor is so similar to rice wine vinegar. You can buy Coconut Secret brand coconut water vinegar at Whole Foods or from amazon. Tropical Traditions also sells coconut water vinegar. Serves 3-4.
Ingredients (Asian Pear Slaw):
- 1 medium Asian pear
- 1 large Carrot
- 1 Tbsp Coconut Water Vinegar
- 1 tsp Sesame Oil
- 1 Tbsp Sesame Seeds (black or brown), optional
1. Finely julienne Asian pear and carrot using a mandoline slicer or sharp knife (a julienne cut is like a long matchstick). I cut my carrot into thirds before julienning them, so the pieces would not be much longer than the Asian pear pieces. You should end up with a 50-50 mix of Asian pear and carrot, approximately 3-4 loosely packed cups.
2. Toss julienned Asian pear and carrot with vinegar, sesame oil and sesame seeds, if using. Let marinate at room temperature for 20 minutes (or longer in the fridge).
Ingredients (Coconut Oil-Poached Tilapia):
- 3 or 4 6-7oz Tilapia fillets (or substitute any whitefish)
- ½ cup Extra Virgin Coconut Oil (enough that the oil is ¼” deep in your pan)
- Pinch of Salt
1. Heat coconut oil and salt over medium-low heat until hot, just starting to bubble but not a rolling simmering. Add tilapia to the pan.
2. Cover and cook until the top edges of the fish are opaque, 10-12 minutes. Flip each piece of fish. Cook another 8-10 minutes until the fish is fully cooked and opaque throughout.
3. Serve with Asian pear slaw and enjoy!