It doesn’t matter if you think the fish is boring or flavourless. Tilapia is the third most consumed fish in the world. And with self-isolation causing you to pull out (…to the dismay of your soon-to-be wealthy barber…) all that hair on your head, I think it’s time you joined the party.
What I most love about Tilapia is that, unlike most fish, it lacks a selfish gene. It rarely competes for food or territory. Instead, they’ll go after the very plants and nutrients shunned by other species and substantially reduce oxygen-depleting detritus in the water. Their presence increases the population, size, and health of other species. (We Homo Sapiens can learn a lot from them. And it’s my hope that you will meditate on this while you chow down on my recipe below.)
EARTH DAY RECIPE 2: PAN-FRIED TILAPIA WITH MANGO SALSA
(Your kids will love you for not making another batch of Korean seaweed soup.)
4-6 Tilapia fillets (usually packaged with 2-3 fish, attached at the tail end. Just cut into individual fillets)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 ts paprika
1 ts oregano
1 ts garlic powder
Pinch of salt and pepper
3 eggs, beaten
2 cups bread crumbs
2 mangoes, diced
1/2 large red onion, diced
1/2 lime, juiced
1/2 ts salt
1/4 cup cilantro (or parsley), chopped finely
2 Scotch bonnets (or jalapeños), seeded and diced
(Mix all ingredients in a bowl.)
Vegetable oil for frying
It’s Earth Day’s fish because it’s Every Day’s fish.
Snobs sneer at it, accuse it of being boring, flavourless—qualities they know something about. (But these are the same culinary carpenters who’ll angrily blame the mallet for their throbbing thumb.)
I love Tilapia for its Swami Sivananda-like flexibility, its Leonardo DiCaprio-like sustainability, and its Bill and Melinda Gates-like fight against contagious diseases. (The Nile Tilapia has been effective in combatting malaria because of its love of mosquito larvae—how do you say “yummy in my tummy” in Tilapian?) And the sheer range of cooking techniques you can apply to it is nothing to shrug at.
I learned this simple recipe in Chile from an environmentalist friend, Jesus, who had a Tilapia pond in his yard, but preferred frozen over fresh for his ceviche. Frozen Tilapia is ubiquitous in every grocery store or box store here.
(Here’s the first of two Tilapia recipes.)
EARTH DAY RECIPE 1: TILAPIA MANGO CEVICHE
1/2 lb tilapia frozen, thinly sliced (the thicker the cut, the longer it takes to “cook” in the citrus juices)
1 mango, diced very small
1 Tb cilantro (or parsley), chopped
1/2 Tb Kosher salt
1/2 cup lime juice, fresh squeezed
1 Tb orange juice, fresh squeezed
1/2 ts lime zest
1/2 red onion, sliced into half-moons
1/4 ts sugar
1 Scotch bonnet chili pepper (or jalapeño if you prefer it mild), seeded and chopped
Sanitize your hands, turn off your lights, take off your clothes, say grace to Mother Earth, and eat with tortilla chips or scoop into Tostitos®️
#covid19 #quarantinerecipes #earthday2020 #tilapia #ceviche #chile #sushimakingforthesoul
Refined sushi eaters like you have been practicing it long before #physicaldistancing became a hashtag. But for many others, they’re still partying like it’s 2019 when it comes to #wasabi and #soysauce
Getting waSOYbi just right is like a spiritual exercise for them. They could be in the middle of a conversation about their failing marriage, but their patient partner will still pause to let them finish making their beloved paste.
“You done now, honey? Okay, good. Yes, I need space. And no, it has nothing to do with what’s been happening these past few months. I’ve been wanting this for years.”
Yes, I know. The very idea of creating that greenish-brown silt in a dish is as revolting as a stranger on the subway offering to lend you their homemade mask because you forgot yours. It’s a testament to your uncompromising stand against bad form that you don’t do it.
You know better. You know that diluting wasabi in soy sauce makes it effectively defenseless against the dangerous H.pylori bacteria in raw fish. You know that undiluted wasabi is one of the best inhibitors of streptococcus mutans, the cause of tooth decay.
But we mustn’t judge others who don’t know any better.
We’re Canadian. We’re kind.
And I must confess: I’ve not always been so charitable myself. A student, Zach, once blurted out in a class that I was acting like a dictator, that making waSOYbi wasn’t an act of barbarism.
I didn’t respond.
He later apologized.
I didn’t respond.
Last night, I made sushi. I also made waSOYbi. Colour saturation was perfect (green, with hints of dark caramel); exact 2-1.5 proportion of soy to wasabi. It was the most delicious condiment I’ve ever had!
Zach, you were wrong then, but you are right now.
I accept your apology.
#quarantinestories #sushimakingforthesoul #thetimestheyareachangin #soysauce #wasabi
We go through a lot of sushi in our workshops, but this one is not the variety used for making rolls. Of the hundreds of variations of soups, Korean seaweed soup #miyeokguk #미역국 is my favourite, in part because it’s the simplest one to make, and in part because it’s one of the best and most delicious hangover cures.
It is traditionally prepared for mothers who have just given birth. Made from brown seaweed (or Japanese wakame), the nutrients in the seaweed are known to cleanse/replenish the blood, produce breast milk, and generally quicken recovery. It’s also served on your birthday because, frankly, you need to be reminded every year how much your mom had to endure to give birth to you. I use beef because it deepens the umami, but you can use any meat protein.
Dried seaweed is so cheap (and lasts longer than any guilt trip) that storing a bag in your pantry is something to deeply consider between binge-watching your favourite Netflix anime for the second time.
SEAWEED SOUP WITH BEEF
(Serves a hungry family of four OR a “mom-it’s-a-weed-for-the-love-of-god-and-I’m-not-really-feeling-it-right-now family of ten.)
1 oz dried seaweed (Miyeok / wakame)
5 oz beef chuck or round, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 ts fine sea salt
1/4 ts black pepper
1 Tb sesame oil
2 Tb soy sauce
1 ts minced garlic
6 cups water
#covid19 #quarantinerecipes #greatmoms #wakame #seaweedsoup
I dropped a salad plate that shattered into a million pieces the other day. It was given to me years ago by a master sushi chef and mentor, Osada-san. He had made the plate himself.
I don’t usually get sentimental about objects, so when the tears came, it surprised me. Yet even in that moment I knew it wasn’t just about a broken plate.
Some of our challenges feel too daunting, our desperation as silent and infectious as the very thing we know caused it. Relationship problems. Financial crises. Mental health issues. Losses—of employment, shelter, personal security, self-esteem, even of loved ones. Heartbreak in its countless guises.
And of the virtues declaring itself today in all its human splendour—kindness, patience, courage, charity, love etc.—the most consequential of all may be: resilience.
Kintsugi is the 400-year-old Japanese art of repairing broken pottery by mending the areas of breakage with powdered gold. Every break, whatever its kind or cause, is unique. And rather than concealing it, kintsugi artists incorporate the “scars” as a part of the design solution. The new product becomes stronger, more resilient, than it had been before.
“It’s a beautiful idea, but beautiful ideas don’t shatter. Plates do. So do our lives, our hearts. Reality is what is fragile.”
But we have entirely missed the point of kintsugi. By mending broken plates, these people weren’t trying to construct a metaphor—they weren’t poets.
Their work wasn’t some coded message for “you can achieve if you simply believe”—they weren’t cheerleaders.
The practitioners of kintsugi were scientists, reconstructive surgeons. They aspired to see things clearly.
And this is what they saw: brittle shards of broken pottery that needed fixing, resilience-building. Their solution: copy the ways of the human anatomy, of man’s indomitable spirit.