The Mobile Chef finds inspiration in Belize
By Tom Castrigno
One of the reasons I love going to the beach so much is the chance to eat really fresh fish. Traveling in Belize, we ate fish every day during the first part of our trip. We stayed in Placencia, a small fishing village on a peninsula toward the south end of the country. The town is noted for its 500-yard long sidewalk the villagers built to cart the daily catch from the marina back home.
After landing in Belmopan, we took a 30 minute flight to Placencia in an eight-passenger plane. It was a real treat to get an aerial view of the coast line and the interior of the country.
Once we arrived, we went through the usual ritual of choosing a place to stay. Comparison shopping can be difficult when carrying a large backpack in the tropical heat. After looking at three different places, we settled on a brightly colored cabana on the beach. The owner was hanging sheets on the line as we walked up. This was a good sign of cleanliness, in our opinion.
Most of the food available in Belize is fried. I am not sure exactly why this is. Nonetheless, it is tasty for the first few days until cravings for something cooked differently begin. At home, I generally either cook fish on the grill or by baking it in the oven.
Fish is one of the fastest things you can cook as the centerpiece for a healthy meal. A piece big enough to serve you and your Valentine cooks in about 10 minutes or less. Be sure to defrost first for best results. Do not overcook fish — period. You can always cook it more if needed. Once it flakes easily, it’s done, so check it often if necessary until you get a feel for the type of fish you are preparing.
For this recipe I often use Tilapia. A more elegant alternative might be haddock or black cod. The sauce uses a surprising ingredient, yogurt. The cultures in the yogurt act as a marinade to break down the fish before heat is applied. If there is no time to allow marinating, go ahead and just cook. It will be delicious either way, I promise. Fresh ginger, onion, and ground coriander round out the flavor profile. A pinch of chili powder gives extra depth to the finished dish. Steam up some broccoli or green beans while the fish bakes and you will have a great entree.
Enjoying a meal of fish brings back fond memories of trips to the beach. The Yucatan is one of my favorite areas. The pace is relaxed, the people are friendly, and the food is fresh and delicious.
Tom Castrigno lives in Frisco, CO where he is known as The Mobile Chef. Learn some of his secrets for healthy eating and find great recipes on his blog at www.healthymealsmadeeasily.com/blog/ You are invited to leave your questions or share your thoughts in the comment box below.