Ginataang Tilapia Recipe, Filipino Fish with Coconut Milk and Greens, Paleo, Delicious, and Easy

I love recipes from around the world, but haven't had the fortune to taste too many different Filipino recipes. One of them, pancit bihon, is a stir fry that my friend Juli taught me, but beyond that, I wasn't really familiar with their dishes. However, on a quest to learn more about dishes from around the world, I learned about ginataang tilapia, something that really appealed both to my taste buds and my budget.

Ginataan is a Filipino term for food cooked in coconut milk (and when its followed by another word it becomes ginataang, hence the g in the name) and often served with rice. While I used tilapia for this (specifically St Peter's fish), you can feel free to use any fish that you like for this recipe. Not all ginataan fish recipes have greens in them, but this one that I loosely based mine on does, and so do many recipes, and I figured it would be the perfect recipe to use the abundant wild greens that are growing in my backyard at the moment. I used wild swiss chard, also known as sea beet, for mine, but you can use any that you have on hand that aren't bitter. Spinach and kale and bok choy are common store bought greens used for this, but mallow, milk thistle, amaranth, and lambsquarters would be great in this as well.

As written, the recipe is gluten free and paleo (assuming you use non soy sauce alternatives), and to keep it paleo serve it plain, without rice. It is relatively allergy friendly as well, not to mention easy to make. I really enjoyed it, as did my fish loving kid. And if you use home grown greens for this, its a pretty cheap dish to make as well.

Ginataang Tilapia Recipe, Filipino Fish with Coconut Milk and Greens, Paleo, Delicious, and Easy

1-3 whole fish (or as many as will fit in a large pan at once) or fish fillets
Oil as needed
1 can coconut milk (approximately 1 1/2 cups)
1 onion
4 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
1 green pepper
Hot pepper to taste (optional)
2-3 tablespoons fish sauce, gluten free soy sauce, or coconut aminos
1-2 tablespoons vinegar (optional)
2-3 cups packed greens (sea beet, mallow, spinach, kale, bok choy, etc...)
Salt to taste

1. Fry your fish in oil until fully cooked on one side, then flip over and cook on the other side. Remove fish from pan and set aside.

2. Chop your onions, garlic, and ginger, and add to the hot oil left in the pan. Cook until lightly browning.

3. Chop your green pepper and hot pepper if using, and add them to the pan. Cook for a few minutes.

4. Add the coconut milk, soy sauce/fish sauce/coconut aminios, vinegar if using, and salt to taste. Some fish ginetaan recipes call for vinegar, some not, but I prefer it with. But its up to you.

5. Add your fish back to the pot, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.

6. Chop up your greens and add them to the pan, mixing so they get partially submerged in the liquid, being careful that you don't break the fish in the process.

7. Cook for two to three minutes, ideally covered, or until the greens are wilted.

8. Adjust salt and spices to taste.

9. Serve hot, ideally with rice, but plain is also delicious.


Have you ever had Filipino food before? What is your favorite dish from the Phillipines? What would you recommend to someone who wants to explore Filipino cuisine? Have you ever had ginataang fish before? Does this look like a recipe you'd try? What type of greens do you think you'd use?

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal

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