Pan Seared Baja Fish with Mango-Black Bean Salsa on a Gloomy, Rainy Monday

This was our dinner yesterday, on a gloomy rainy Monday - Pan Seared Baja Fish with Mango-Black Bean Salsa and a piece of Dill-Buttermilk Cornbread

I have an uncanny knack of attuning my mood with the weather outside. My day started with a tea gone cold and a slightly burned toast. That set the tone. This was followed by a silly argument with a dear friend and a routine meltdown with my Mom. The rest of the day I spent sulking, sleeping on the couch and getting a shoulder sprain.

Around 5 PM, Sam called to say that he and Sid would be home in an hour and a realization dawned... there is no dinner! I just had some Tilapia loins thawing in the refrigerator from last night. Believe it or not, the entire spread that you see in the above pic was made in 45 mins flat. Yeah, the meal plan was in my mind, but for some other day. I was surprised that I could put together such an elaborate meal in such a short time.

First I made the salsa and stashed it in the fridge for the flavors to infuse. Then I marinated my fish loins with my Baja rub and let it hangout while I made the cornbread. The cornbread is a breeze to put together as it does not require vigorous mixing of ingredients nor use of complicated machinery. While the cornbread baked, I pan-seared the fish. As I clicked my last pic, I could hear hungry footsteps climbing the stairs!

Recipe Snapshot: Mango-Black Bean Salsa 

Serves: 4 serving

(1 serving = 3/4 cup)

What I used:
Black Beans  - 1 can (15.25 oz), drained and rinsed well
Mango - 1 medium sized, chopped in to chunks
Red Bell Pepper - 1, chopped
Green onion/ scallions - 2 nos, chopped
(Finely sliced Red onion can also be used)
Fresh Mint leaves - a handful, finely chopped
(Cilantro can also be used)

For the dressing:
Lime - 1
Extra Virgin Olive oil - a drizzle (1 tbsp approx)
Hot Sauce - 10-20 dashes (also depends on your tolerance level)
Cumin Powder - ¼ tsp

What I did:
1. Toss together the black bean, chopped mangoes, red bell pepper, a couple of scallions and some fresh mint leaves. 

2. Squeeze a juice of a whole lime in a empty jar, add the extra virgin olive oil, salt, hot sauce cumin powder, salt and pepper.

3. Give it a shake and pour it over that beans-mango salad and mix well with a spoon.

4. Refrigerate till serving. This will help the flavors to infuse with each other.


I first tasted the Baja Fish Tacos during our Chicago Trip. It tasted like condensed Macher Jhol (Fish Curry). For a Bengali, the everyday Macher Jhol is made with ada-jeere bata (cumin and ginger paste) and it was the same flavors that I could taste in that fish taco. On our return, I had made baked fish with a rub of cumin powder, ginger powder and red chili and called it my Baja Fish.

Recipe Snapshot: Baja Fish

Serves: 3 serving
(1 serving = 1 pc)

What I used:
Tilapia or any firm white fish loin or fillet - 3-4 nos, washed and pat dried

Cumin powder - 1 tsp
Ginger powder - 1 tsp
Paprika or Chili powder - ½ tsp

Oil spray
Lime or lemon juice

What I did:
1. In a bowl, mix cumin powder, ginger powder, paprika, salt and pepper and rub the mix on both sides of the fillet/loins.

2. Let it hang out for 10-15 minutes.

3. Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Spray with a nonstick cooking spray and sear the fillet/loins for 4 minutes per sides.

4. Squeeze a little lime or lemon juice on them and garnish with cilantro.

My dinner would have ended with the fish and the salsa, but not everybody in my life is on a low -carb diet. So I made this soft and moist cornbread to go with the fish and salsa. Sam loves cornbread. Its his favorite accompaniment with soups. To be honest, even I LOVE this corn bread and I did sneak in a tiny piece on my dinner plate.

Recipe Snapshot: Buttermilk and Dill Cornbread

Serves: 6 serving

What I used:
All Purpose Flour - 1 cup
Yellow Cornmeal - 1 cup
Baking Powder - 1 tsp
Baking Soda - ½ tsp
Salt - ¼ tsp
Sugar - 1 tbsp
Buttermilk - 1½ cup
Flavorless Oil (Canola) - ¼ cup
Eggs - 2 nos, lightly beaten
Dill - 2-3 tbsp, finely chopped

What I did:
1. Preheat the oven at 400F.

2. Grease a 9x9 pan and keep aside.

3. Shift together the AP flour, cornmeal, baking powder and soda and salt. Add the chopped dill and mix well.

4. In a separate bowl, mix together the eggs, oil, buttermilk and sugar Whisk well to get a homogeneous mixture.

5. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ones and mix just until just combined with no dry spots. The batter should be visibly lumpy. It's extremely important not to over-mix the batter.

6. Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 mins or until the top is golden brown and tester inserted into the middle of the cornbread comes out clean.

7. Remove the cornbread from the oven and let it cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Tip: The dry and wet ingredients, respectively, can be mixed in advance, but as soon as the wet and dry ingredients have been combined with each other, the liquid will activate the baking powder and the batter must be baked right away.

For a day that started on a bad note, this meal was the perfect way to end it. I made up with my friend later in the evening and as far as my Mom goes... well, she forgets and forgives and that's the best part of the mother-daughter relationship!

All's well that ends well!



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