Fish Fillet in Coconut Milk

Fish Fillet Spiced with Coconut Milk and Lemon

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I saw Jenn’s recipe a couple of weeks ago (may 28), bookmarked it and planned to cook it as I thought it’s quick and simple and yummy. I followed almost exactly how she did hers with very few tweaks here and there. As I imagine it having Thai influence I decided to garnish it with fresh coriander, having bought a pot for a planned tom yum fix some time. Also, instead of spinach I used mustard greens as I have a bunch in the fridge I intended to cook for sinigang. Chili-free, too, for the boy.

How we love it! I was really expecting Thai flavor but what a welcome surprise! It was closer to comfort food as it seems more Batangueno to me. Reminds me of my mom’s cooking – isdang binalot sa dahon ng mustasa at sinaing sa gata, tuyong kamias at sariling patis. (Small fishes wrapped in mustard greens and simmered in their own juice and coconut milk for hours in a claypot.) We call it pinais or pais; you can eat everything including heads, bones and tails. Yummy. Thank you, Jenn! Check out her recipe here.

200g Dory fish fillet
A can of coconut milk, approx. 400 ml
Zest from 1 lemon
Juice from half a lemon
Patis (fish sauce)
1 tbsp Brown sugar
1 clove garlic, crushed
Mustard greens, cut root ends
Spring onion, chopped
Fresh coriander (optional)

Combine coconut milk, lemon juice and zest, patis, sugar and garlic in a pan. Bring to boil and simmer for about 3 minutes. Add mustard leaves and simmer for about 4 minutes or until mustard greens are cooked. Scoop them out and transfer to a platter. Add fish fillets and simmer for another 4 to 6 minutes or until fish is cooked through. Turn off heat. Add coriander and season with more lemon juice if desired.

Transfer to a platter with mustard leaves, garnish with spring onion and more coriander. Serve hot with plain rice.

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I am not a professional cook. My only claim to having a culinary background is a short stint as my dad’s teen ‘sous chef’ in his carinderia ages ago. Dad ran small eateries since I was a young kid - serving standard ‘turo-turo’ food ranging from the likes of menudo, adobo, pritong isda, dinuguan, binagoongan, bopis, munggo, pinakbet and giniling to merienda fares like goto, ginataan, pancit bihon, halu-halo and saging con yelo.

My father, a farmer in his hometown before working his way to becoming an accountant, definitely influenced my cooking in a lot of ways than I thought. My siblings and I were raised in a backyard full of fruit trees and vegetable garden. We spent weekends and the summer breaks running around with ducks, chickens, goats and pigs. I had wonderful memories of gathering eggs, butchering chickens, selling vegetables and the sweet aroma of preserved fruits. But my love for art led me to a degree in Architecture. Just few months after getting my license, I went abroad and lived independently at age 23. Definitely no maid, no cook, and a totally different food culture. Along the way I met lots of friends and spent what seemed a lifetime learning new tricks and recipes.

Now living in Auckland, I am a work-from-home mum who juggles time between work, fun and family - in pursuit of work-life balance. No matter how busy I am, I love the idea of cooking for my family. My blog chronicles home cooking greatly influenced by life outside my home country from Southeast Asia to Beijing and Auckland. And most of the time, being busy also means easy (sometimes quick), affordable meals.

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