Friday, July 11, 2008

Grilled Tilapia with Mango Salsa and Rice

Tonight was a venture. I have never liked fish, and I think it is because my family just never ate it when I was growing up (except for tuna fish - one of the fishiest smelling fish you can get, yet my mom liked it!). But my taste buds have changed a lot over the last 3 years or so. Whereas before, the mere sight of a mushroom would be enough to utterly disgust me, now I almost crave them sometimes. I used to hate stuffing; now it is my favorite part of Thanksgiving (although I'll have to figure out a gluten-free version this year). And my next attempt to overrule what my taste buds have always told me? Seafood.

I started with a taste of a shrimp here and there; last year at the Taste of Clayton I was bold enough to try a scallop. Seafood has just never really enticed me - something about the texture of it put me off. But I am also trying to change how I think about seafood. I think at least half the battle is mental. So I decided to decide to like fish. And tonight, my taste buds were actually rather pleased with what they were met with! I spent the evening with my lovely cousins, Meade and Grace, and we tried out this recipe, which originally called for halibut but which we replaced with tilapia. Grace can't stand cider vinegar, which the original recipe also called for, so we used red wine vinegar instead for some extra flavor. One thing to consider with this recipe is how much cilantro you really want in your salsa. I enjoy the taste of cilantro, personally, but Meade and her mom did not care much for the salsa because of the cilantro. So, use wisely and possibly sparingly. Enjoy!

Grilled Tilapia with Mango Salsa and Rice

1 cup Jasmine or Basmati rice
1 cinnamon stick (optional)
5 cardamom pods (optional)
2 cups plum tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 1/2 cups diced peeled ripe mango
1/2 cup diced red onion
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional; the flavor of this was rather strong)
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar (or cider vinegar)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1 teaspoon black pepper, divided
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 (6-ounce) tilapia fillets
1 tablespoon olive oil

Place rice, cinnamon stick, cardamom pods, a dash of salt, and 2 cups of cold water into a pot. Cook rice according to directions.

Prepare mango salsa:  Combine first 7 ingredients. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and garlic.

Prepare the grill. Rub tilapia with oil; sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Place fish on grill rack; grill 3 minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Serve with mango salsa.

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