So, I like to experiment in the kitchen.  One of the ways I’ve found most satisfying is experimenting with marinades for fish.  We have a metric ton of tilapia in the freezer, plus a pound or two of halibut and some salmon, and so far as I can tell, it’s mostly mine.  My mom isn’t a tilapia fan, so she’s going to consume the salmon first.  As for the halibut, I’m the only one brave enough to try it . . . once I figure out how to cook it so it doesn’t dry out.

So we’re back to the tilapia: a soft, flaky white fish that cooks like a dream and is mild enough that most fish haters can eat it without gagging.  I can’t even taste the fish taste myself, but I’m a California girl, so I’m a bad judge of what’s fishy and what’s not.  Usually I try to marinate it in a chili lime marinade because I love all things with citrus and spicy and zing.  However, about five years ago, I had the best fish marinade I have or will ever taste and I set about recreating it.  I’ve come pretty close and I’m happy enough with the results to post it.  In my experimentation, I actually used measuring cups and spoons so I could do more than approximate how much of each thing I used.  Aren’t you proud of me?  Well, I’m proud of me.

Simple fish* marinade:

  • soy sauce
  • honey
  • onion powder
  • garlic powder
  • ginger
  • nutmeg
  • chili powder
  • sesame seeds (optional)
  • cornstarch (or preferred thickening agent, tapioca is acceptable if you don’t mind the frog-eye effect)
  • about 5-7 ounces of fish (two tilapia filets is what I use)
  • measuring cup with 1/3 cup lines as well as 1/4 cup lines
  • a 1/4 teaspoon measure

Okay, you now have everything you’ll need for this.

In the measuring cup, put in a quarter cup of soy sauce.  Trust me that is all you’ll want/need.  If you don’t like salt, WHY ARE YOU EVEN USING A SOY-BASED MARINADE?!?!  Try a light sodium version of soy sauce.  It should turn out just fine, I’ve never had problems translating from low sodium soy to regular soy (or gluten-free soy, which is also an option for you poor people).  If you store your soy sauce in the fridge (and you probably should), nuke  it for ten seconds on 3-5 power or let it get to room temp.  Powders and honey don’t like to mix with cold soy.

Okay, back to the lukewarm quarter cup of soy you have hanging around.  Get the honey ready to pour (nuke it if it’s crystallized) and get down to eye-level with the measuring cup.  You want to increase the volume of liquid to halfway between the third of a cup line and half cup line (or ab. two-thirds of the way between the quarter cup line and the half cup line).  Confused yet?  This does translate to a rough 3 TB of honey (shy, actually), but I’ve found eyeballing this measurement to be much easier and about as accurate as trying to get 2.66666666666666666666666 (ad infinitum) TB of honey measured out.

At this point add the spices in the following measurements: 1/2 tsp onion powder, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 3/4 tsp ginger, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, 1/4 tsp chili powder, and a generous (optional) shake of sesame seeds.  Stir until you no longer feel resistance from the honey.

Pour into ziploc bag.

Add filets.

Marinate as long as you like/necessary.  That’s why I love a good marinade.  WARNING:  If you taste it at this point (or before you add the raw fish, which would be my suggestion) it will taste over-sweet.  Do not worry.

Now, as you may have noticed, we still have yet to use the cornstarch.  That’s because it’s one of the last things done during the cooking process.  You want to cook the fish separately from thickening the marinade.  The thicker sauce can obstruct your ability to work with the delicate fish and/or burn to the pan.  Spray a pan generously with Pam or the like and cook the filets first.   Personally, while  I’m doing this, I marinate chopped veggies in the marinade.  They don’t marinate for long, but it gets them soaking before they cook.  This hurts nothing (especially when it comes to broccoli, which is just about the driest veggie ever).

After your fish is cooked (sorry, don’t know how long this takes, depends too much on kind of fish and thickness of the piece of fish),  pour the bag in the pan.  Let the marinade get up to a simmer and cook any veggies in the simmering marinade for about a minute and a half before adding a mix of equal parts cornstarch and water to thicken the marinade to a tasty glaze-like gel.  (Once again, tapioca’s a great thickener for you gluten-free friends, but millions of frog eyes will stare back at you as you eat.)  If no veggies, just simmer for about 30-45 seconds before you add the cornstarch solution.  Once thick, spoon out the veggies and/or glaze onto your fish (which should still be warm) and eat!  Meal for one with minimal dishes to clean.

For those of you counting calories and carbs, the glaze isn’t too bad for you.  Where it’ll kill you is the honey.  While honey is a healthy sugar, it is still a sugar.  Just count on the glaze being one of your carbs for the meal.  I only get one per meal, so I don’t have a carb with this one.  Another place you can help yourself out is just using the low sodium soy sauce anyway, as too much sodium can really help you retain water.  You won’t end up eating all the glaze by a long shot (unless you’re a plate scraper) so you should be fine by all counts, but it can’t hurt to lower your sodium intake.

*I wouldn’t recommend using this marinade/glaze with other meats.  Why?  Because of the honey and nutmeg.  Fish can handle that much sweet, but in my experience too much sweet on other meats (except maybe pork) can be pretty disgusting.  I’d have to adjust the amounts of the spices BIG TIME, too because while fish is mild and doesn’t take a whole lot of ginger or garlic, beef you would practically have to coat  before getting the ginger to register  (not so much the garlic–that stuff punches its way through everything).

P.S.  Looks like the new schedule is M/R updates.  I now have Wednesdays “off” from blogging, which more than likely means getting ahead on blogging.  😀