‘Paksiw na tilapia’ fillet | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

PAKSIW na Tilapia

Now that the Lenten season is here, Catholics are urged to abstain from meat every Friday as a way of doing penance. Some may question if this would really constitute penance since abstaining from meat may not be a real sacrifice. Eating seafood, such as lobsters, crabs and prawns, is far from being a deprivation, after all, and if one is a vegetarian, one abstains from meat all the time anyway.

Nevertheless, it could be a sacrifice just the same. Sometimes, for instance, the day one isn’t supposed to eat meat is the day a hamburger or a piece of steak would seem especially mouthwatering.  It’s the spirit of contradiction—and temptation—at work.

Moreover, expensive seafood may not be within everyone’s budget; eating the cheaper and less delectable varieties of fish could then be penitential.

Here’s a recipe for these meat-abstaining days that uses tilapia fillets. Aside from being more convenient than whole tilapia, fillets have already been cleaned and don’t have those pesky fish bones that are thorny and dangerous.

You can find tilapia fillets in the frozen food section of large supermarkets—they’re usually blast frozen and vacuum packed as soon as they’re caught and processed, so they stay fresh in the freezer.

Or, you can ask your friendly fish vendor to fillet two to three medium-size fresh tilapia for you. This dish, a paksiw, it’s stewed in vinegar and is, therefore, quite sour.  It’s, therefore, best eaten with lots of freshly cooked rice.

If you want to add spice, press the long chili so it infuses the vinegar with some hotness.  Or you can add siling labuyo to the vinegar mixture.

Paksiw na Tilapia

4-6  pcs tilapia fillets

Salt and pepper

1 c vinegar

½ c water

1 tbsp patis

1 small onion, thinly sliced or 3 pcs shallots

3-4 pcs sliced ginger

1 long chili (siling haba) and/or 3 pcs bird’s eye chilies (siling labuyo)

1 small eggplant, sliced diagonally into ½-inch pieces

Wash tilapia fillets well then pat dry with paper towels. Season with salt and pepper. Arrange the fillets in an enamel or stainless steel pan (should not be aluminum) or in a clay pot (palayok).  Mix together vinegar, water and patis and pour over the fillets. Top with onions, ginger pieces, long chili (and siling labuyo, if using) and eggplants.

Bring to a rolling boil without stirring then lower heat. Simmer over low heat until fillets are fully cooked and eggplants are tender, around 10 to 15 minutes. Serve with rice and, if desired, with a dip of patis. Makes four to six servings.

Cook’s tips:

If using frozen fillets, thaw them several hours in the refrigerator before cooking.

Choose chilies that are firm and have deep vivid colors.

Be careful when handling the chilies. Wash hands thoroughly after handling them so your skin doesn’t burn. Do NOT, by any means, touch or rub your eyes after handling chilies.

For more tips, recipes and stories, visit author’s blog: www.normachikiamco.com and Facebook fan page: www.facebook.com/normachikiamco.  Follow on Twitter @NormaChikiamco

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