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Cook this: Blackened fish over yuca fries from Diala's Kitchen

Our cookbook of the week is Diala’s Kitchen by Diala Canelo. Over the next two days, we’ll feature another recipe from the book and an interview with the author.

To try another recipe from the book, check out: Mashed plantains with fried eggs .

Crisp and golden, baked yuca fries make the perfect partner for blackened fish. In developing the recipe, Diala Canelo drew on memories of the beachside lunches she enjoyed with her family growing up in the Dominican Republic.

“This is a dish inspired by the food from the island and going to the beach and having that yuca,” says Canelo. “Same as plantain, Dominicans eat it pretty much every week. I will have it every week when I’m at my mom’s.”

The starchy root vegetable (a.k.a. cassava) has a texture similar to potatoes, and takes many different forms in Dominican cuisine, including flatbreads, fritters, empanaditas and buñuelos.

An ideal summer dinner, Canelo’s recipe comes together in 25-30 minutes. “It’s very, very simple because the blackening process of putting all those spices on the fish and cooking it like that develops the flavour of the fish even more,” she says, adding that the garlicky fried onions are crucial. “The condiment makes the dish. You have to have it with the onion.”


2 skinless tilapia fillets (6 oz/170 g each)
6 tbsp (90 mL) extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Juice of 1 lime
1/2 tsp (2 mL) dried oregano
1 tsp (5 mL) ground coriander
1 tsp (5 mL) sweet paprika
1 tsp (5 mL) sea salt, divided
1 tsp (5 mL) pepper, divided
1 large yuca root
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1/2 lemon
1 avocado, pitted, peeled and thinly sliced
1 cup (250 mL) loosely packed microgreens

Step 1

Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Step 2

Place the fish fillets in a shallow baking dish. In a small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons (30 mL) of the olive oil, lime juice, oregano, coriander, paprika, 1/2 teaspoon (2 mL) of the salt and 1/2 teaspoon (2 mL) of the pepper. Whisk until blended. Pour over the fillets and let marinate at room temperature for 10 minutes.

Step 3

Meanwhile, bring a medium pot of water to a boil. While you’re waiting for the water to boil, peel the yuca, cut it in half lengthwise, then cut each half into thick wedges. Boil the yuca until the wedges are slightly soft (test with a fork), about 6 minutes. Drain the yuca wedges and transfer them to the prepared baking sheet.

Step 4

Toss the yuca wedges with 2 tablespoons (30 mL) of the olive oil and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon (2 mL) salt and 1/2 teaspoon (2 mL) pepper. Spread in a single layer, leaving a bit of space between the wedges, and bake until crispy and golden, about 20 minutes, turning halfway through.

Step 5

Meanwhile, in a medium frying pan, heat 1 tablespoon (15 mL) of the olive oil over medium-high heat. Place the fillets in the pan (discarding the marinade) and cook until golden brown and crispy, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and cover loosely with foil to keep warm.

Step 6

In a small frying pan, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon (15 mL) olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and fry until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for 30 seconds. Remove from the heat.

Step 7

To serve, place a fillet on each plate, and add yuca fries and fried onions on the side. Squeeze lemon juice over the fish and fried onions. Enjoy with a few slices of avocado and microgreens on the side.

Serves: 2

Tip: Yuca is the root of the cassava plant. It has a rough bark-like skin that must be peeled before cooking. Once cooked, its texture is similar to that of potatoes and it has a mildly sweet flavour. It’s also delicious when mashed. You can find it in the produce section of most grocery stores.

Excerpted from Diala’s Kitchen by Diala Canelo. Copyright © 2020 by Diala Canelo. Published by Penguin an imprint of Penguin Canada, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020

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