Pan-Seared Tilapia & Okra Tempura

What's a girl to do when she's short on time and expecting friends over for dinner? A cross between Southern and Mediterranean cuisine using two pillars of Ghanaian cuisine: tilapia and okro (as Ghanaians call it). Okro is prominent ingredient local stew like okro soup (which I've blogged about in the past) while tilapia is one of the most common fish found in the Volta region of Ghana. Tilapia is a very forgiving fish that absorbs flavors well and, when cooked at the right temperature, melts in your mouth.  Although simple, this marinade was a bit of an experiment, but ended up working out well. 

Pan-seared tilapia topped with scallions, basil and tomatoes alongside some fried okra, green beans and brown rice. 

Pan-seared tilapia topped with scallions, basil and tomatoes alongside some fried okra, green beans and brown rice. 

Pan-Seared Tilapia

4 tilapia fillets tilapia
Salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon corinader
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 lemons
3 cloves of garlic
1 bunch of scallions
2 tablespoons, olive oil
3 medium tomatoes
1/4 cup basil leaves

  1. Squeeze three lemons and set aside the juice. Crush garlic cloves and add to the lemon mixture. Add half of the scallions to the mixture.
  2. Rinse the tilapia fillets before covering with the lemon mixture. Set aside in the refrigerator for 10 - 15 minutes. 
  3. Place the marinated fillets on a flat plate or baking dish and lightly sprinkle them on both sides with the flour, salt, pepper, and coriander.
  4. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the tilapia until it flakes easily with a fork, about 3 - 4 minutes per side. Serve immediately.
  5. After removing the fish from the skillet, add another tablespoon of olive oil and tomatoes. Season the tomatoes with salt and pepper. 
  6. Garnish with the remaining scallions, basil and tomatoes.

Okra Tempura

5 cups of oil
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup buttermilk (see below for a substitute if you don't have it on hand)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/2 pounds fresh okra, sliced thickly
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 cloves of garlic

  1. Heat oil in a large pot. 
  2. In a bowl, combine the milk with 1 teaspoon of lemon juice to make buttermilk if you don't have it on hand. 
  3. In another bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, salt, and cayenne pepper. Dip the okra in buttermilk and then coat it in the cornmeal-flour mixture. Carefully add okra to the hot oil and cook until golden brown.
  4. When removing it from the oil, drain it with a slotted spoon and place it on paper towels to absorb the oil.  

I also made some green beans and brown rice to go along with this dinner, which serves about 4 people.