Linking the brain to the stomach, induce the state of euphoria of feelings to a deeper essence of reflection. This easy and delicious fried fish fillet with rice pilaf is a perfect marriage of Gremolata and the Holy Trinity. Gremolata, a zesty Italian green sauce is what brings life to fish from the frozen section at the grocery store. Holy Trinity of Louisiana is the savory backbone of Cajun and Creole dishes that provides impeccable flavor to rice pilaf.
What is a basa fillet?
Basa fish fillet is light, firm in texture and has a mild fish flavor which is available in the frozen section of the grocery store here in Canada (sure look for a real fresh Basa fish fillet when you're living in South East Asia). It may seem logical to think that fresh fish is better but actually that might not be true. Aside from it being nutritiously delicious, it will also not empty the wallet. But, this doesn't mean that frozen basa fish fillet is the only type of fish to make for this recipe. The gremolata complements any kind of fish you put on your plate. Except, you have to alter the cooking time depending on the thickness of the fish you're going to cook.
What is Gremolata?
A classic Italian gremolata is made of chopped parsley, grated garlic cloves, and lemon zest. Combining them together will add an enormous punch of flavor to any kind of dish from soup, fish, meat, grains, vegetables, salad, and pasta. Adding lemon juice, olive oil and red pepper flakes to this classic will not just only level up the flavor and taste of the dish you're planning to use. These extra ingredients boost health benefits as well. Hoping that Italians will not question me for altering their traditional food culture.
Have you tried brown basmati rice?
Brown and white rice doesn't look any different from any other type of rice. However, you will notice the difference when you sniff the grain. It has an intense flavor and aroma which is nutty, buttery and floral. On the other hand, white basmati rice takes a shorter time to cook between 12 to 15 minutes while brown basmati rice will take 30-35 minutes. Both grains remain individually even after cooking and the texture is airy when cooked properly. They don't stick, which is why it is a perfect base for rice pilaf. Honestly, I have that dislike feeling towards strong nutty fragrance, firm and chewy texture of brown rice and they take too long to cook. Until I cooked rice pilaf using brown basmati rice, the holy trinity as the flavor base, and the best homemade chicken stock ( store-bought is perfectly fine too) for the cooking liquid; the end result was divine. The rice was airy and alluring with a robust flavor. I fell in love with it. And hey, dieticians and nutritionists touted that brown rice has a higher nutritional value.
The Holy Trinity
If the French cuisine has its own traditional mirepoix, a blend of two-part onions, one part carrots, and one part celery; The holy trinity of Louisiana cuisine (Cajun or Creole ) is as simple as one part onions, one part celery, and one part bell pepper. These three vegetables (onions, celery, and bell pepper) are packed with flavourful liquid. Once the heat breaks down the vegetables, it releases the flavor until it caramelizes. That is the soul of the dish you are about to make. It is so flavourful that no matter how you name it, to me it is absolutely indispensable.
HOW TO MAKE THIS EASY AND DELICIOUS FRIED FISH FILLET WITH RICE PILAF IN JUST 45 MINUTES?
We often heard "no pain- no gain". The same thing goes for brown rice, all types of brown rice take a longer time to cook compared to white rice. So, If you want to use white rice instead, definitely you're cutting 15 minutes down from the cooking time.
As a rule, before you take out all those pots and pans to use, make sure that your ingredients are all set, chopped, washed, and clean.
- To make the pilaf, briefly saute the rice in melted butter (my preference) or oil on medium-high heat to give the grains a toasted flavor and to keep them separated. Add the Holy Trinity, the chopped parsley stem, and let it sweat until it releases all the liquid and caramelized, leaving you a residue at the bottom of the pot while some cling to the vegetables and rice. Add the chicken stock and herbs, de-glazing, scraping all the brown bits stocked at the bottom of the pan. That's what makes the end result holy.
- Crank the heat on high until it starts to boil. Put the lid on, making sure it is secure, not allowing any steam to escape, then lower the heat to its lowest setting. Set your timer for 25 minutes, once your timer calls for attention, take a quick peek using a wooden spoon and check down the bottom of the pan if there's any more liquid, don't stir.
- If there's no obvious sign of cooking liquid, return the lid back and remove the pot from the heat. Let it rest for 10 minutes. But if there is more liquid at the bottom, give it an extra 3-5 minutes to continue cooking before removing fit from the heat to rest. The 10 minutes of resting is necessary to have a fluffier texture and to give time for the grains of the rice to firm up, to stay distinct rather than sticking to each other.
- Meanwhile, while the rice is cooking, this gives you ample time to prepare any vegetables or salad of your choice for your side dish. Squeeze the lemon and prepare all the seasoning needed. Make sure the fish is not swimming in a puddle of thawed water. Gently pat the fish with a kitchen paper towel to absorb all the water.
- Give life to the fish. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice on the fish, just a thin film then sprinkle the seasoning on all sides
- Heat a large heavy-duty frying pan with cooking oil over high heat until hot but not smoking, gently slide the fish into the hot pan and let it sizzle and sputter for 30 seconds on high heat. Lower the heat to medium and continue cooking for another 2 minutes on each side. Do not overcrowd the pan, give enough space to make it easier to flip and for even cooking.
Ready to try your hand with this budget-friendly fried fish fillet with a generous touch of Italian green sauce, gremolata and this holy prized Trinity flavored rice? Grab a pan and your pots, set your knife and chopping board, crank up the heat and just let the good time roll. You're in for one comforting and robust meal.
FRIED FISH FILLET WITH RICE PILAF, EASY AND DELICIOUS
- Large heavy duty frying pan, Medium cooking pan
Brown rice pilaf
- 1 ½ Cup (300 grams) Brown rice basmati, or any long-grain rice, rinsed
- 2 Tablespoon Butter
- ½ Cup (70 grams) Red bell pepper, diced
- ½ Cup (50 grams) Celery, diced
- ½ Cup (26 grams) Cooking onion, diced
- 1 Teaspoon Dried thyme
- 2 Bayleaf
- ¼ Teaspoon salt (pink salt, preference)
- 3 cups chicken stock, vegetable stock or water
- 8 Stems Parsley, Finely chopped ( stems and leaves separated)
- 1 Cup Parsley, finely chopped (packed)
- 2 Cloves Garlic, minced
- 1 Large Lemon zest and 2 tablespoon juice
- 2 Tablespoon Olive oil
- ¼ Teaspoon Salt
- ¼ Teaspoon Freshly grind pepper
- 1 Teaspoon Chilli flakes
- 4 Fillet 6 to 8 oz Basa fish fillet, thawed and dried with a paper towel
- 3 Tablespoon Freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 Teaspoon Garlic powder
- 1 Teaspoon Dried Thyme
- 1 Teaspoon Dried Oregano
- ½ Teaspoon Salt (pink salt or sea salt)
- Lemon slices
For the rice pilaf
- In medium-high heat, Place the pot and melt the butter. Add the rice, stirring until it smells toasted and nutty, about 3 minutes. Add the onions, celery, bell pepper, and parsley stems. Stir to combine and lower the heat to medium-low. Let the vegetable sweat, releasing its flavor until it caramelizes creating the soul of your dish, then add the thyme and bay leaf.
- Turn the heat on high, add the stock, scraping and stirring all the brown bits sticking at the bottom of the pot. As soon as the bubbles start to appear at the sides of the pot, put the lid on, lower the heat to low, and let it simmer until all the liquid is absorbed. Resist the urge of removing the lid and stirring the rice while cooking. Check it just once after 25 minutes using a spoon or a wooden spatula by cutting at the middle of the cooking rice then gently push in one side to see how much water is left (no stirring, just take a peek). Bring back the lid and continue cooking for another 5 minutes if there is more liquid left. It will take about 30 minutes to cook. Take the pot off from the heat (do not open the lid), and let it rest for 10 minutes undisturbed. When you're all set, remove the lid, add the remaining chopped parsley leaves, and fluff using a fork.
For the Gremolata
- Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl, cover, and set aside away from your working area.
For the fish
- Drizzle the lemon juice into the fish.
- Combine all the dry ingredients and sprinkle all over the fish as you gently press to adhere.
- Place the large frying pan over high heat and add 2 tablespoons of cooking oil. When the oil is hot, gently slide fish and fry for 30 seconds, lower the heat to medium heat and continue cooking for another 2-3 minutes on each side.
- Scoop the cooked rice pilaf on the plate, arrange the fish on top and spread a generous amount of gremolata on top of the fish, garnish with a slice of lemon and serve with any vegetables of your choice. Pass the remaining gremolata. ENJOY!
- Leftover rice pilaf freezes well and perfect for fried rice for another delicious meal.
- Make extra Gremolata, complements mostly everything.
- Note this: Long grain brown rice cooks between 30 - 35 minutes and white ling grain rice cooks between 12-15 minutes.