An aromatic smell with most, succulent fish makes Thai grilled tilapia with salt a must-have dish in any Thai restaurants. The smoky aroma of fish combines with lemongrass and kaffir lime is simply mouth-watering. This dish served together with hot rice and dipping sauce, makes for an exquisite meal.
What is Thai Grilled Tilapia with Salt?
This dish starts with tilapia coated in a crust of salt and all-purpose flour. It is then stuffed with lemongrass stalks and kaffir lime leaves and cooked over the charcoal fire and can take up to 30-40 minutes.
The thick crust layer on the outside keeps the flesh of the fish moist throughout the grilling. The fish is then served after removing this thick crusty layer of salt. However, the fish skin will retain a bit of salt which flavours the fish. Thus, the combination of salty and sweet fish flesh is delicious.
This salted-crusted dish, accompanied by a seafood dipping sauce, will make the dish exquisite. The sauce consists of lime juice, palm sugar, fish sauce, soy sauce, garlic, and chilli.
History of Thai Grilled Tilapia with Salt
Salt was used to preserve fish and meat since the Egyptian civilisation. This technique makes food lasts longer and suitable for long travelling. The salt-crusted fish also appeared in many other different countries such as China, France, Italy, and Spain.
The earliest Chinese documentation of this salt-crusted fish goes back to 2000 BC. At the time, salt is expensive, and the dish was reserved only for wealthy people. However, as methods of collecting salt improved, this technique became popular among common people. This Thus, this technique spreaded to Thailand.
Salt is vital to Thailand and is one of the sources of income over generations. They have a special festival to celebrate this history. The Art of Salt Festival celebrates for three days and includes many activities involving salt. It goes without question that salt-crusted fish is widely served during the festival.
Facts about Tilapia
Tilapia is freshwater fish commonly found shallow streams, rivers, and lakes. Tilapia is one of the most consumed fish due to its low prices, easy preparations and a mild taste.
Originated from Africa, it has spread around the world. Now, it is commercially produced in over 100 countries. China is the largest producer of tilapia. Tilapia grows quickly, which makes it relatively cheaper compared to other fish.
Tilapia is a herbivorous fish. They feed on algae or small aquatic plants. There are many different species of tilapia, but the species that are widely available in the markets are the red tilapia, black tilapia, and blue tilapia.
Tilapia is usually served as a whole fish. The insides are removed while keeping the head and tail intact. Tilapia is versatile as it can be used for baking, steamed, roasted, fried, or even in soup.
Besides that, tilapia can be made into fillets. Skinless and boneless fillets are the most popular product. Various processing methods used to ensure that the fillet retains its flavour and bright red colour.
Tilapia has a mild and unique taste. Some claim it has a ‘muddy’ flavour and associate that these flavours do not indicate the freshness of fish. This has brought to some people not liking tilapia.
Other than that, tilapia has high proteins and low in cholesterol, calories, and sodium. The fish is also high in omega-3 fatty acids that important for the average growth and brain function.
Where to find Thai Grilled Tilapia with Salt in Malaysia
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Or you can even make this great dish at home by clicking the recipe here.