Ginataang tilapia is fish with spinach cooked in coconut milk. I am specifically using tilapia, a fish belonging to the tilapiine cichlid tribe, for this recipe. Red snapper and mackerel works well too. The word “ginataan” (also spelled as guinataan) is a Filipino cooking method that involves coconut meat or cream. It literally means cooked in coconut milk.
How to Cook Ginataang Tilapia
This dish is easy to cook. Note that I am using fried tilapia for this recipe. If you have your own method in frying fish, go ahead and prepare it that way. I start by seasoning the fish with salt. It is best to score both sides of the fish so that the salt can quickly penetrate. Ensure that salt is rubbed all over the fish, especially on the cavity. Give it 10 minutes to absorb the salt before frying.
Fry the fish in hot oil until golden brown. I like using a little bit more oil when frying fish. This helps cook the fish uniformly. It will also help if you have a splatter screen by your side before frying to protect you from splattering oil. Next is to turn the fish over to cook and brown the opposite side. Do the same steps as you did on the other side. It is also important to let the oil drip completely after frying the fish. This will help keep it crisp. Do it by placing your fried tilapia on a wire rack or simply let all the oil drip as you take it out of the pan. Here is a good source of information about this method.
Aromatics are important when cooking ginataang tilapia. These ingredients brings-in flavor and aroma to the dish. It also helps reduce the fishy taste and aroma. Onion, garlic, and ginger are first sauted until fragrant.
I then add 2 cups of coconut milk and chili pepper before adding the fish. Vinegar is also added when cooking this dish in some parts of the Philippines. You can do in this step. Cook the fried fish for 12 minutes. If using fresh tilapia, you’ll need to cook it a little bit longer just so you are ensured that it is cooked all throughout. 10 minutes should be enough per side.
The long green peppers and seasonings are added next. Siling pansigang or any long green pepper variety can be used for this recipe. Banana peppers work too. Fish sauce is my main seasoning when it comes to ginataang tilapia. It is known as “patis” in Filipino. Pour around tablespoon first and taste the sauce to see if you need to add more. Also add a bit of ground black pepper. Complete the dish with fresh leafy vegetables such as spinach.
Alternative Ingredients When Cooking Ginataang Tilapia
Fresh fish can be used to cook this dish. As mentioned above, cook it for 10 minutes per side just so you are sure that it is cooked completely.
I am using spinach for this recipe. Other green leafy vegetables can also be used. Malunggay leaves are ideal. Bok choy and hot pepper leaves can also be utilized.
Fish sauce is a good seasoning because it gives the dish that Umami taste. Salt can be used as an alternative to this ingredient.
Using fresh coconut milk will provide optimal results. Canned coconut milk or coconut cream also works well.
Try this Ginataang Tilapia Recipe. Let me know what you think.
- Heat the cooking oil in a cooking pot.
- Sauté the onion, garlic, and ginger in the hot oil
- Once the onion become soft, pour the coconut milk into the pot. Let boil and cover. Cook for 5 minutes between low to medium heat.
- Add the chili peppers and tilapia. Cover and simmer for 12 minutes.
- Add long green chili peppers and season with fish sauce and ground black pepper. Stir. Cook for 3 minutes.
- Add the spinach. Cover and cook for 1 minute.
- Transfer to a serving plate. Serve hot. Share and Enjoy!
- You can add ½ cup water if the coconut milk starts to evaporate quickly. Some people like to put a bit of vinegar when cooking this dish.
- You can do so by adding 2 tablespoons of vinegar right after pouring the coconut oil. Salt can be used as a substitute for fish sauce.
- Feel free to use other leafy green vegetables besides spinach. Malunggay leaves, pechay, bok choy, and hot pepper leaves are good examples.
- Fresh tilapia can be used for this recipe. If doing so, it should be cooked for at least 10 minutes per side. Canned coconut milk can be used. It will make your dish creamier.