Thursday, February 05, 2009

Tilapia in Sweet & Sour Sauce (Escabecheng Tilapia)

From Tilapia in Sweet N Sour Sauce
My recipe here is probably so unconventional for the typical Filipino, because of one ingredient not usually found in a Pinoy's pantry: the excess juice coming from canned whole tomatoes.

My younger son celebrated his 11th birthday recently. For the kids' birthday celebration, lasagna is the most requested dish. One ingredient for the lasagna is two quarts of drained(self-)canned whole tomatoes (you can also buy these in grocery stores, FYI). As you probably are now aware of, ang pagka-Ilokana ni Manang, humihirit. I did not want to throw away the juice drained from these. I kept them in the fridge, planning to make sweet and sour sauce, to pour over fried fish. I actually came up with two quarts of finished SSS, and I kept one jar in the fridge for the next Pinay gathering. The rest, I poured onto a whole (head and all) fried tilapia we had two days after. I warned my hubby to stop by somewhere on his way home to get himself something for supper, and not to be afraid to be late. I told him the boys and I were going to eat a head, so we better eat ahead. (pun intended! haha!)

If you do not ever plan to do canning of tomatoes, or to use store-bought canned whole tomatoes, you might not have a use for this recipe. However, if you do plan to can pasta sauce, cooking only the more solid parts of tomatoes and draining off excess juice, you might want to gather that and try canning and processing your own SSS for future use.

Ingredients for SSS:
1-3 tbsp oil
3 cups tomato juice (drained from whole canned tomatoes)
6 tbsp vinegar
2/3 cups sugar
2-3 tbsp tapioca flour (depends on the consistency you want; dissolved in some water)
1 carrot, julienned
1/2 each of red and green bell peppers, cut into strips
2-3 tbsp ginger, julienned
1 medium onion, sliced
1-2 tsp salt (to taste)
some drops of Worcestershire sauce
some soy sauce

[Note: If I will experiment in the future to can SSS, then I would add the last two ingredients only during reheating, as I do not know how they will affect the pH.]

Fish, slit on sides (2-3 lbs)
salt to marinade the fish while you heat up the wok
cornstarch to dredge fish in just before frying


From Tilapia in Sweet N Sour Sauce
Prepare the SSS. Heat oil on med high. Sautee ginger then onion, then add veggies. Add the tomato juice, vinegar, and sugar, and season with the rest of the spices to taste. Add tapioca-water mixture in thin stream until you achieve your desired consistency. Set aside 1 pint in a clean jar and refrigerate if you can't use all. Use the remaining for 1 big fish.

From Tilapia in Sweet N Sour Sauce
Heat wok over high for about 5 minutes (or until very hot). Add oil and heat on high. Dredge fish in cornstarch and shake excess off. Deep fry for about 5 minutes one side (or until browned and crisped good), then flip and cook another 5 minutes, covered. Turn off heat and immediately take out fish and let oil drip from it by placing on a cooling rack (do not let fish sit in the oil or it will absorb much of the oil as it cools down). Pour 1 qt of the SSS over the fish. Serve over plain rice.


Manang said...

Hi Angel,
Nice to meet you!
It makes me wonder if you have a recipe for guinataang bilo-bilo!
I was able to get several canned saba. I have not seen any frozen ones here.

Tangled Noodle said...

Your "Eat a head/eat ahead" pun was really funny! Thanks for this recipe - I've thrown out leftover juice b/c I didn't know what to do with it after I used the tomatoes. I don't know how to can properly yet so how long would you say the SSS might last in a regular container in the refrigerator?

Manang said...

I think if you use a container that will allow minimal air trapped above the sauce (as in punong-puno to the brim), the sauce will most probably last more than two weeks. There is a tendency to have molds on top if you have too much air (although you can just skim the top off and reheat the sauce fully prior to using). Of course, try to put the freshly cooked, very hot sauce in the container and cover right away (sort of like "sterilizing" the container). Refrigerate soon after.

Tangled Noodle said...

Salamat, Manang! 8-)

eden said...

hmm looks yummy, though. I havent tried eating tilapia. maybe one day i should try..

Manang said...

Hi Pam,
Thanks (although I do not see myself as the "best." I do try my best here. Hehe! Enjoy!
BTW, does your husband cringe at the sight of fish head on the table?

Anonymous said...

Husband is half Honduran and spent summer vacation when he was a child in the islands.. so fish head doesn't scare him a bit. He looks the other way though when I eat the head like a cat. Hehe!

Anonymous said...

Oh wow, the best escabeche I've ever tasted.
You rock. I did your escabeche sauce and my, my, naubos ka-agad. I didn't use fresh tilapia, but used 4 frozen fillets (fairly large size). That was a good idea to use the sauce and canned tomatoes. It was excellent. Thanks very much!

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