Guest Post: Blackened Tilapia over Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

Slow Carb Blackened Tilapia with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

After a brief posting hiatus while I was visiting friends and family in California, I’ve returned to Melbourne and am back to eating healthy (and blogging about it.)   Today’s recipe is a guest post from Brian Valentin over at Four Hour Body Zone. Brian blogs about his experiences on the Slow Carb Diet and Paleo eating plans as well as other health and fitness related topics.

Brian and I started the Slow Carb Diet around the same time so following his journey has been invaluable to my own experience. Like me, Brian’s continued to adjust and tweak the diet in order to figure out what works best for him, and by doing so, the rest of us are able to learn from his experiences. If you haven’t checked out his blog, I highly encourage you to do so.

The typical western diet is very high in Omega 6 fats – the ideal ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 is basically 1:1 or 2:1 at worst. For most of us,we are running somewhere in the 15:1 or 20:1 range! One way to fix that ratio is to supplement with Omega 3 Fish Oil supplements – but another tastier way to increase our Omega 3’s is to eat good fatty fish and seafood.

I’ve never been much of a seafood eater even when growing up on Long Island where there was a lot of fresh seafood available. Now that I’m landlocked, there is even less options for someone trying to experiment with seafood. I tend to stick to frozen fish as that’s the most available fish around here. I also prefer to eat the milder fish that I can add flavors to – so when I eat fish it tends to be tilapia, but I’ve also found that I enjoy salmon too.

This recipe is one that I heard the basis of while listening to an NPR piece about fish markets and a chef that was being interviewed described a simple preparation he makes. This is my version of that – it has a lot more added to it, but it is still a pretty simple dish.

Blackened Tilapia over Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

Slow Carb Blackened Tilapia with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
Blackened Tilapia with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 small onion – thinly sliced
  • 1/2 tsp minced garlic (or 1 clove minced)
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • 7-8 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1-2 fish fillet – fresh or frozen (I used frozen tilapia – salmon would work well too)
  • blackened seasoning
  • salt/pepper to taste
  • pat of butter – grass fed butter is best if available (optional)
  • squeeze of lemon (optional)

Directions

Preheat oven to 375.

  1. Heat olive oil in an oven proof skillet over med heat, add onion, garlic, and red pepper flakes and pinch of salt and saute until soft and onions are translucent – about 5 to 8 minutes.  Add cherry tomatoes to skillet and cook for 5 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, season fish fillets with blackened seasoning.
  3. Move cherry tomatoes to edges of skillet and place fish fillets down in center of skillet.
  4. Place skillet in preheated oven and bake for approximately 12 minutes – flipping fish over halfway through cooking. With about 1 minute left you can add a pat of butter to pan.  When time is up, transfer tomatoes and onions to a plate, then put fish fillets over tomatoes.

If you’d like you can squeeze a little lemon over the fillets.  I prefer to have a large salad and some steamed vegetables with this. If you’re doing slow carb or 4HB style, add 1/2 cup of black beans as a side.

Coriander Lime Salmon

Slow Carb Coriander Lime Salmon Recipe

Normally following a cheat day, I am itching to recharge my body with nutrient-dense superfoods.  For me, this means spinach and salmon.  This could get a little boring after awhile so I try to experiment with various seasonings to keep Sunday dinner interesting.

I’ve tried to take a small tour around the globe to influence  my salmon recipes.  So far I’ve hit:

Indian – Slow Carb Salmon with Garlic and Turmeric

Italian –  Slow Carb Seared Salmon and Capers

Cajun – Slow Carb Blackened Salmon

For this salmon dish, I was looking for a bit of Southeast Asian influence (possibly Thai, though to actually call it Thai and include my Frank’s Red Hot would be a huge stretch!)   In any case, this salmon dish is packed with flavor, yet still light and refreshing.  It’s also quick and easy to make and great served cold if you want to make extra to toss in a salad the next day.

I served mine with some spinach sautéed in a bit of garlic and macadamia nut oil and roasted root vegetables.

Slow Carb Coriander Lime Salmon Recipe
Slow Carb Coriander Lime Salmon

Ingredients

  • 4  salmon fillets (appprox 6 oz)
  • 1/2 t  sea salt
  • 1/8 t  freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 t  ground coriander
  • 2 t olive or macadamia nut oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 t lime juice
  • ¼  – ½ t hot pepper sauce (I use Frank’s Red Hot because there’s no added wheat or sugar)

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, combine the salt, pepper and coriander. Sprinkle over salmon.
  2. In a non-stick skillet, add oil.  Once pan and oil are hot, add salmon and cook over medium heat, browning the outside.  This normally takes about 3 minutes on each side but may vary depending on how hot your pan gets. Do not overcook. Salmon does not need to be cooked through at this point as you will continue to cook it.
  3. Add the garlic, lime juice and hot pepper sauce. Reduce heat. Cover and cook 3-4 minutes longer or until fish flakes easily with a fork.  Be careful not to overcook or your salmon will be dry.
  4. Serve immediately.

Slow Carb Blackened Salmon (or chicken)

Slow Carb Blackened Salmon or Chicken Recipe

Cajun-style seasonings are a great way to liven up a salmon fillet.   If you don’t care for fish, this same seasoning can be used on chicken as well.

I like to grill up several pieces and serve over a bed of fresh, uncooked baby spinach.  If that doesn’t appeal to you, serve with cooked greens or a salad.

Slow Carb Blackened Salmon or Chicken Recipe
Blackened salmon on a bed of fresh baby spinach

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbs paprika
  • ¼ Tbs cayenne pepper
  • ½ Tbs onion or garlic powder
  • 1 t sea salt
  • ¼ t white ground pepper (black is fine if you don’t have this)
  • ¼ fresh ground black pepper
  • ½ t Italian herbs (basil, thyme, oregano and/or herb blend)
  • 4 boneless, skinless salmon fillets
  • 1 Tbs ghee or macadamia nut oil

Directions

  1. Mix all spices in a small bowl.
  2. Coat salmon fillets evenly with the spices on both sides.
  3. Heat ghee or oil in a large, heavy skillet.   Over high heat, cook salmon until blackened about 2 minutes.  Turn fillets and reduce heat to medium.  Continue cooking until blackened and fish is easily flaked with a fork, about 2-3 minutes.

Slow Carb Seared Salmon and Capers

Slow Carb Salmon Recipe

This was my second endeavour into cooking salmon.  This recipe is simple, quick and tastes delicious.  I made a few extra fillets and some sautéed spinach and garlic for lunch the next day.

Slow Carb Salmon Recipe
Lunch portion of Seared Salmon and Capers

Ingredients

  • Salmon fillets
  • 1  Tbs Olive Oil
  • Sea Salt
  • Fresh Ground Pepper
  • Capers (about 1 teaspoon per salmon fillet)
  • Garlic, finely chopped ( I used 1 clove for 2 fillets)

Directions

  1. Season salmon fillets with salt and pepper.  Gently press garlic into  the top side of the fillets.
  2. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Once heated, add salmon with the garlic coasted side down.
  3. Cook for 2 minutes until garlic is browned.
  4. Turn the salmon over.   Add capers and a bit more olive oil if the salmon has dried out.
  5. Cook for 3-5 minutes until the fish is just beginning to get flaky.

Slow Carb Salmon with Garlic and Turmeric

Slow Carb Salmon Recipe

I grew up in a very meat-eating family where beef, lamb and chicken almost always took center stage.   This trend followed me into adult life, mostly because I had no idea how to cook fish.

I’ve been trying to incorporate a bit more fish into my diet for awhile now, but my default tends to be sushi, more specifically raw salmon.  In my opinion, really good salmon is a bit wasted when you cook it.

Sushi-grade salmon (and even regular salmon) is quite pricey in Australia so now I’m making more of an effort to learn to cook salmon well and make it interesting.

This is a recipe I found in my favorite book of curries.  I made it with the sauce, but for a REALLY simple meal (or if you are avoiding coconut milk), it doesn’t need the sauce.  Warning, it’s a bit intense, so if you prefer things milder, I’d cut the amount of garlic in half.

I serve this dish with yellow daal and sautéed spinach.  Leftovers make a great lunch for the next day.

Serves  4.

Slow Carb Salmon Recipe
Salmon, Spinach and Daal

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • Cayenne pepper to taste
  • 6 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 lb boneless, skinless salmon fillet
  • 1 T macadamia nut oil

Optional Ingredients (if you decide to make it more of a curry)

  • ½ cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • Cayenne pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Mix the salt, turmeric and garlic together in a small bowl.  Sprinkle over the top of salmon fillets and gently press it into the salmon so it coats it. Cover the fish,  and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to sink in.
  2. In a large skillet, add the oil and heat to a medium temperature.  Once sufficiently warm, add the salmon with the spice covered-side down.   Sear the salmon for about 2 minutes until it gets a nice crust.  Turn the salmon over and cook for 2 minutes.
  3. If you’re making the sauce, you’ll want to mix the coconut milk, pepper (and additional cayenne pepper, if you like things hot) while you are searing the fish.  Stir, and pour over the fish once you’ve seared the other side of the salmon.  Using a spatula, gently lift the fish so that some of the sauce gets under it and releases some of the browned bits of garlic and spices.
  4. Reduce the heat to medium low.  Cover the skillet and continue cooking for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Fish is ready when it’s barely starting to flake.
  5. If the sauce isn’t think enough for your liking, remove the fish so you don’t overcook it, and then turn up the heat to medium and allow to simmer until it reduces more.

Note:   If you’re planning on serving the salmon without the sauce, once you’ve turned the salmon, cook for another 5 minutes until the fish is barely starting to flake.