Fried Coconut Tilapia Strips

November 30, 2012

As a home cook, I strive to create delicious meals that are beautiful, yet simple. Meals that fit comfortably within the realities of every day life, with it's incessant hustle and bustle. That is not to say that once in a while I will not find the time to prepare a dish that requires the use of 3 pans, 12 different ingredients, 2 different kinds of meats, and homemade broth, for the sake of being a la Julia Child. But for weekday dinners, casual gatherings, and even special occasions, I try to keep it simple, quick, and easy. Esther Deutsch, in her new cookbook Chic Made Simple, brings 200 new recipes to pique your interest and satiate your appetite.

In Chic, you have a little bit of everything, from French-inspired Beef Bourguignon to Orange-Scented Rack of Veal, from Pistachio Pesto Fettuccine Alfredo to Spiced Mocha Mousse with Viennese Crunch. And there is even a step-by-step guide to make the cutest Chanel cupcakes. 

I got a chance to ask Esther a few questions about the book.

What drives you to keep on creating and developing recipes?
I have a hard time following recipes precisely. When cooking with a recipe I have this innate compulsion to change or add ingredients. (It’s so much easier using ingredients you already have on hand than having to run out and buy ingredients). Because of my "inability to follow a recipe syndrome" developing new recipes became second nature. Many of the recipes in CHIC include substitute suggestions that can be used to replace certain ingredients in the recipes. Other than being convenient, the suggestions convey a message of confidence to the readers that enables them to use their own creativity in the kitchen. Most of all, it's a thrill for me to create recipes that are super easy yet give the impression that you slaved for hours.

Where do you gain inspiration?
Wanting to spend time with my children inspires me to create fast and easy recipes. Raising young children definitely does not offer the luxury of fussing in the kitchen all day. When expecting company, I don’t want to spend an entire Friday cooking in the kitchen while my children are home. So when I cook, my main objective is to cook recipes that will be quick and easy.

How long did it take you to work on your cookbook?
It took me two years to work on the book. But, since I was having so much fun doing it, it went by fairly quickly.

What makes you feel successful in this endeavor?
I am most proud that I managed to write this book while still being there for my children
when they got home from school every day. Balancing both was a daunting challenge.
Cramming full time hours in to a part time day taught me tremendous discipline and
focus that transfers to other aspects of my life.

You have great skills in styling and plating the food. Where did you learn and what tips
can you share with our readers?
I have never gone to culinary school and don't consider myself to be a chef - I am a cook. So, there isn’t really a specific method of training behind my food styling. My approach is "less is more" when it comes to plating food. What people find appealing is presentation that's kept simple - all you need is a clean white plate, a simple garnish, and a little TLC to produce a beautiful dish. It's ok if it's not perfect. There is beauty in imperfection. The photographers that worked on Chic Made Simple are amazingly talented and they were able to capture the special quality of the recipes. The camera is less forgiving than food that's presented in real life, so in the studio my most important tool is a pair of tweezers. Who knew tweezers can be so effective?

Thank you Esther for sharing your experience with us.

Now to truly gauge the success of a cookbook, you must try the recipes. I did just that, starting with the Coconut Tilapia with Apricot Teriyaki Sauce.

The fish was coated in a crunchy layer of breading and coconut flakes, with the coconut adding a hint of flavor that was at once unexpected and welcomed. It enhanced the delicate flesh of the tilapia and balanced the flavors remarkably.

I served it alongside a fresh arugula salad and it made a perfectly light and filling dinner. The kids liked it, too, which means it got promoted to being part of my meal planning (the one I make and never keep) repertoire.

If you'd like to peruse the book yourself, now you'll have a chance to win a copy, a special gift just in time for the holiday.


1. Leave a comment. Tell me what your favorite fast, yet fabulous recipe is. Or what you're making for dinner tomorrow. Or what you'll do with the cookbook if you win.

Additional Entries

1. Follow The Kosher Spoon by subscribing to the email list here and/or to the RSS feed here

2. Email and/or post on your Facebook wall about the giveaway: Win Esther Deutsch's Chic Made Simple Cookbook @ The Kosher Spoon

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4. Tweet about the giveaway: Enter to #win Esther Deutsch's Chic Made Simple #Kosher #Cookbook @thekosherspoon #giveaway

Remember to leave a separate comment for every entry. If you already follow The Kosher Spoon, leave a comment saying so.

Giveaway starts on November 30, 2012 and will run until December 9, 2012 at 11:59pm PST.

I will announce the winner on December 10th, so please check back to see if you won, otherwise leave an email address or a link back to a site so I have a way of contacting you. If the winner does not respond within 3 days, I will pick a new winner.

*Two food blogging friends are also hosting giveaways here and here, so check them out for more chances to win fabulous cookbooks.

Official Rules:

Giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.

To enter leave a comment.

One winner will be selected at random via

The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning.

No purchase necessary.

Disclaimer:  I was provided with the cookbooks for the purpose of doing a review and giveaway. All opinions are my own.

Coconut Tilapia with Apricot Teriyako Sauce


4 slices of tilapia fillet
Peanut oil, for frying

Dipping sauce:
1 cup apricot jam
2 tbsp dijon mustard
2 rbsp white or red horseradish, drained
2 tbsp teriyaki sauce

Coating 1
1/2 cup cornstarch
kosher salt
black pepper

Coating 2
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

Coating 3
1 cup fine ground coconut
1 cup coconut flakes


1. To prepare the dipping sauce: In a small bowl, combine all the sauce ingredients.

2. Cut the tilapia into 3/4-inch-wide strips (about 4-6 strips per slice). Trim the top and bottom of each strip to form a neat rectangular shape.

3. Prepare three bowls for the coatings. In one bowl, combine the cornstarch, salt, and black pepper. In a second bowl, combine the eggs, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, salt and black pepper. In the third bowl, combine the fine ground coconut and the coconut flakes.

4. Coat the tilapia strips on all sides with the cornstarch coating, then coat with the egg mixture. Finally, coat the tilapia with the coconut coating.

5. In a frying pan, heat the peanut oil over medium high heat. (Make sure the oil is very hot before frying or the fish will stick to the pan.) Fry the tilapia on both sides until it is golden brown and the crust is crispy, about 4-5 minutes per side. Remove the tilapia and drain on a paper towel. Serve with the dipping sauce. 

Note: I decided to include the original recipe, but wanted to share with you the variations I made. I used matza meal instead of cornstarch, because I like the thick, crunchy crust it forms when fried. I did not have coconut flakes and used 2 cups of ground coconut instead. Also, I did not make the apricot sauce. Instead, we enjoyed it with a salsa and cholula sauce, going for the spicy route. It paired well together.



  1. Hi visiting from CM! Love our blog!!! My favorite fast dinner is pasta, you can toss practically anything with pasta!

  2. I would love to win the cookbook-I am always looking for new, fun, creative recipes and I think I could have so much fun with this cookbook!

  3. If I win I will update my shabbos meals menu.

  4. I just started following you on Pinterest! Cant wait to see what new things i will learn!

  5. I would love to win this cookbook bc I need to grow my collection! I have a facebook food group, I want that for dinner! and I want that for dinner (without the !) And I am a passionate chef. I make quick, easy recipes that are healthy (almost always :) ) and so delicious. My fav go to quick dish is (nt the healthiest) one can creamed corn on the bottom, add a bag of frozen veges on top- whichever you like, add 2 cans cream corn on top, crumble on french's fried onions, cover w foil and bake at 350 for an hour. Easy?? I think so!
    Adapted from Susie Fishbein, she made these in ramekins, and uses only 2 cans of cream corn.

  6. Tonight I'm making my Kosher take on Chicken Kiev and I made fresh babka last night! Looking forward to expanding my repertoire.

  7. My favorite fabulous recipe is roasted potatoes: Chop up a variety of potatoes and put them in a pan. Spray a bit of oil and add lawry's seasoning, onion powder, garlic powder, and just a dash of (surprise!!!) cinnamon. Toss to mix. Roast on 375 or 400 for at least an hour. Seriously. Amazing. Dare you not to eat them all at once.

  8. I follow you on twitter. (@CarolineEr)

  9. ... and on pinterest. (CarolineEMB, as CarolineEr was already taken...)

  10. I know I'm boring but my go-to menu for "fast" is macaroni. Everyone eats it. It doesn't get better than that!

  11. I do a fast Creamy Pasta, I put a little butter on a pan with mushrooms, leek, ham or chicken, or whatever I have. Then I add Heavy whipping cream and half square of beef bouillon, add to the pasta + cheese :) Amazing and super fast.

  12. We always have frozen balls of homemade pizza dough in the freezer. I leave one in the refrigerator overnight every Thursday evening to make a quick pizza on Friday night!

  13. My favorite fast recipe is pasta with spinach sauce. Take a package of cream of spinach and nuke it with 1/2 cup milk and some minced garlic. Spoon over cooked pasta and sprinkle with parm cheese and Bacos. Yum!

  14. I already follow the RSS feed.

  15. I follow you on twitter (as @ohyoucook).

  16. Since we have a family of five I am always looking for healthy recipes that feed a crowd. I too am completely incapable of following a recipe. I usually look at the photo and then go shopping for whatever may sound good to add. One of our favorite winter soups is a twist on a Turkey White Bean Chipotle Soup. Another favorite is a twist on a hearty healthy Taco Soup.

    I have a secret obsession with cookbooks...shouldn't everyone! If I won the cookbook I would look at the photos while visually tasting and taking in the pictures. I would then flag the pages that looked fabulous, glance at the recipe and close the book to venture into a land of yummy and add my own twist to an already great recipe.

    Thanks for the opportunity to post!

  17. My favorite "fast" meal is a noodle bowl with sesame/soy sauce dressing and a bunch of fresh sauteed veggies!

  18. I'm making spiced salmon with brown rice for dinner.

  19. My favorite fast-yet-fabulous recipe is Pasta Puttanesca.

  20. I also follow you on Twitter (@RachelAlbert89).

  21. I follow the email list. My favorite dinner is tuna patties on homemade sliders with zucchini fries. The sliders take seriously 15 minutes to make and they add so much!

  22. This looks wonderful, Sina! Good luck!

  23. Love that you included an interview with Esther! I've been so curious about this cookbook, the recipes sound fantastic, and I really love the behind the scenes perspective you provided! Great review!

  24. My favorite fast but delicious recipe is bruschetta topped with goat cheese & cooked asparagus and shallots - yum!

  25. Would love to make those Chanel cupcakes for my mom or just for fun!

  26. My favorite fast but delicious recipe is quick buffalo chicken with steamed broccoli. Thin strips of chicken are sauteed in a pan until almost cooked and then I add buffalo sauce and cook until thick. Spicy and delicious! (and I'd love the cookboook!)

  27. Following on facebook. I love cookbooks. Thanks for the giveaway would love to win to try new food.

  28. hm,..american wife and simy: i don't have a FB page! :)

  29. I throw a couple of sliced sweet potatoes in the oven with oil and salt, walk away, and when they're done I top it with a few crumbles of goat cheese. Delish dinner :)

  30. Would love to win. Always like trying new recipes.

  31. This would be an awesome cookbook to add to my growing collection. I blog about my dinner every night and include a photo. I would love to try out some of your recipes and have new ideas and inspiration!

  32. I plan to make colorful vegetable latkas. It's healthier than the traditional potato and sounds delicious.

  33. I would love this cookbook. I like to make "theme weeks" where all the food I cook comes from a specific book. Also I've got a party coming up and could use new ideas to make the table more appealing.

  34. Dinner? One of my "cheat" meals: Boil a package of pasta, add a splash of milk and a tablespoon or two of butter. Dump in a can of tuna, can of mushrooms, a few handfuls of shredded cheese, and a little salt and pepper. Always popular. :)

  35. I tried subscribing to your email list, but I got a message saying that your feed is not email-enabled.

    1. I'm not sure why.I just tested it on my phone and was able to subscribe. You can try again, if you want

  36. I made Fettuccine Alfredo for supper tonight - my favorite supper ever and its really easy! Tomorrow night is probably going to be spaghetti and meatballs.
    Thanks for the chance!

  37. tweeted

  38. Shared giveawy on FB

  39. Dinner tonight will be breakfast for dinner--which, coincidentally is my go-to quick and easy meal. Beautiful cookbook!

  40. My favorite quick meal is guacamole! (though waiting for those avocados to ripen isn't exactly quick...)

  41. I already follow you on Google Reader

  42. The recipe sounds great and your pics are gorgeous. My best fast and easy recipe is also fish, simply Pan Seared Salmon with some Sour Cream and Zaatar, so good and easy.

  43. so nice to meet you - and what a great review :)

  44. This recipe also caught my eye, I will definitely be making it now!


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