Chinese-Style Steamed Tilapia

The holiday season is entering its final week, and a lot of people already are looking for ways to get back on track as far as eating healthy. And there’s no better way than to give tilapia a try.

The fish, which is relatively new to American consumers, has become quite popular in recent years because it has a sweet, mild flavor and a firm, flaky texture. By some accounts, it  is one of America’s top 10 seafoods.

But more importantly, it’s a heart-healthy lean source of protein, which makes it perfect candidate for people looking to lose or maintain their weight.

A good example is my friend Connie Nelson, whose healthy-eating regimen has helped her lose almost 25 pounds in the past half-year. Recently, Connie told  me about a tasty tilapia dish called Fish in a Bag that she had at Red Lobster.

I’ve had the Red Lobster entree and can say it’s mighty tasty. I’ve also prepared the fish at home a few times and never have been disappointed.

Here’s another tilipia recipe I came across recently. It’s from Sarah Moulton, former executive chef at Gourmet magazine for nearly 25 years who also has spent a decade hosting several Food Network shows. She currently stars in public television’s “Sara’s Weeknight Meals” and has written three cookbooks, including “Sara Moulton’s Everyday Family Dinners.”

Moulton says her recipe for Chinese-Style Steamed Tilapia is quick, healthy and delicious, and she recommends it for people who want a recovery from a month or two of holiday overindulgence.

Chinese-Style Steamed Tilapia
5 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce, divided
2 tablespoons sake or dry sherry
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
3 teaspoons toasted sesame oil, divided
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1¼ pounds tilapia fillets, cut into 4 portions
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
¼ pound fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, caps thinly sliced
3 scallions (white and light green parts), thinly sliced (about 1/3 cup)
½ large jalapeno chili or 1 serrano chili, very thinly sliced crosswise
In a small bowl, whisk together 3 tablespoons of the soy sauce, the sake or sherry, ginger, 2 teaspoons of the sesame oil and the cornstarch. Transfer the mixture to a zip-close plastic bag, add the tilapi, then shake to coat the fish with the marinade. Refrigerate for 20 to 30 minutes.
Fill a medium saucepan with about 1 inch of water. Fit the pan with a steamer basket, then line the basket with foil. Coat the foil with cooking spray. Bring the water to a boil.
Remove the fillets from the bag then arrange them on the foil, folding if necessary to make them fit. Pour the marinade over the fish. Cover and steam the fish for 3 to 6 minutes, or until just cooked through.
Meanwhile, in a medium skillet over high, heat the vegetable oil until hot. Reduce the heat to medium, add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the scallions and chili and cook for another minute. Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons of soy sauce and 1 teaspoon of sesame oil. Transfer the fillets to plates and spoon the mushroom mixture over them. Serve immediately.
Yield: Serves 4.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 330 calories, 52 percent of calories from fat, 20 gramms fat (3 grams saturated, no trans), 70 milligrams cholesterol, 9 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber; 2 grams sugar, 30 grams protein, 830 milligrams sodium.