I find simplicity in cooking soothing. My sister watched me as I put this meal together and was surprised by my decision to not add “Maggi”, born and raised in Nigeria “Maggi/Knorr/Seasoning Cube” is a staple in our cooking. My mum once told me that my grandma’s cooking was the best she’s ever tasted, and she never used “Maggi”.
I was about 12 at the time and was just learning my way around a kitchen; I had just discovered the delights of Maggi in all its variety and how it could take your food from meh, to WOW. So, I couldn’t imagine how food could taste “sweet” without Maggi?
However, as I’ve grown older and experimented with cuisines from other countries, I’ve built a respect for the process of cooking. The magic of spices and herbs never cease to amaze me. Quality, locally grown, organic food makes all the difference. While that costs a buck and some here in Dubai, it’s so readily available in Nigeria and it baffles me how we don’t highlight our food for what it is instead of bathing it in “Maggi”. I’m especially curious as to how Nigerian food was made pre Maggi, and what give our food its Nigerian-ness. Is it the process of grinding pepper with a stone? Or the smoky flavor of burning charcoal? I know it isn’t Maggi, but sometimes its hard to tell.
Moving on, I picked up this Tilapia from the local fish market, and I fillet(ted) it myself! I’m so proud! Finally, all the cooking shows I watch are finally doing me some good. I seasoned it lightly with sea salt, freshly cracked black pepper and chili flakes. A simple seasoning mix, that highlights the taste of the fish without overpowering it.
I seared the fish on a very hot pan to quickly seal in the flavor and for that signature crispy skin fish should always have. I cooked on each side for 3-4 minutes allowing the fish to become moist and flaky on the inside. You may have to cook longer if you have thicker fillets, mine where only about a quarter of an inch thick.
I served this with some delicious “creamy” broccoli, which I made by sautéing some garlic, onions and coconut oil till they were browned; I added salt to help it “sweat”. To the pan, I added broccoli, a splash of coconut milk and some coconut sugar to enhance the sweetness of the vegetable.
It took less than 20 minutes from start to finish. My sister conceded to my maggi-less choice with a “Wow, this is actually so good” and I had the same thoughts.
If you’re a skeptic, I urge you to try this, experiment with more herbs, more spices, slow cook things, sear things, find flavor in the process. You can find my video tutorial below.
- 2 medium sized tilapia, fillet
- Freshly cracked black pepper
- Chili Flakes
- Coconut oil
- 1 small broccoli floret, 2 cups
- ¼ cup coconut milk
- 1 tsp. coconut sugar
- 1 small onion, minced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- Pat the fish fillet dry and season with salt, chili flakes and black pepper, on both sides. Press the seasoning down into the fish skin.
- Heat a pan to medium high and add 2 tablespoons of coconut oil, and swirl to coat. Place the fillets on the pan, skin side down and cook for 3- 4minutes before flipping.
- Repeat with other fillets and them transfer them to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm.
- In the same pan add another tablespoon of coconut oil and sweat the onions and garlic with a pinch of salt till they start to caramelize.
- Add the broccoli and stir to coat. Add the coconut milk simmer for 5 minutes, and then add the coconut sugar and stir. Serve on top the fish and enjoy.