On the continuing quest to find new and interesting ways to prepare fish, I decided to try a coconut encrusted tilapia - along the lines of coconut shrimp. I served it with a spicy sweet chili dipping sauce and sweet potato oven fries. While it wasn't my original intention to create a modern "island" version of fish & chips - that's exactly what we ended up with!
Now, I must admit that normally I'm averse to frying, given that it's not the healthiest way to go. But I knew that would be the best way to truly get these crispy. And as it turns out, the coconut covering really didn't soak up a lot of the oil, so the fish wasn't greasy and didn't really feel like "fried food." If you're still really opposed to frying though, these could be baked at 350°F for about 15 minutes with a flip half-way through.
Coconut Tilapia with Sweet Potato Oven Fries
2 tilapia fillets
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 egg, beaten
3/4 c. sweetened coconut flakes, finely chopped
2 tsp. cajun seasoning
1/2 c. canola oil
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 sweet potatoes, cut into french fry strips
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. paprika
sweet chili sauce for dipping (usually found with the asian foods in the grocery store)
Preheat oven to 425°F. In a large bowl, combine 1 Tbsp. olive oil, cut sweet potatoes, cumin and paprika. Toss to coat sweet potatoes evenly. Bake in oven for 15-20 minutes until evenly browned, turning every 5 minutes or so.
Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, heat 1/2 c. canola oil over medium heat to 350° F.
On a plate, mix chopped coconut and cajun seasoning.
Coat tilapia filets in cornstarch, then dip in beaten egg. Roll in spiced coconut mixture until both sides of each fillet are evenly coated.
Carefully place fish into heated oil. Let cook 4-5 minutes until coconut is golden brown. Flip and cook another 3-5 minutes on the other side. Carefully remove from oil with tongs or a spatula and place on paper towels to drain off any excess oil.
Serve with sweet potatoe fries & sweet chili dipping sauce.