The title is perhaps a little bit of an oxymoron… do they eat red lentils in Asia? Well, in fact they do, but Asia is a very large continent and red lentils are not exactly a dietary staple where the inspiration for the flavours of Tilapia with Asian Red Lentils dish came from. According to the Government of Saskatchewan, the major importing countries of red lentils are Egypt, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh and India.
According to Lentils.ca, just 100 grams of split red lentils (uncooked) has more potassium than a large banana! We are so driven to reduce salt that sometimes we forget to look at the other half of the equation: getting enough potassium. Potassium can counteract the damaging effect of sodium and has been shown to lower blood pressure.
My parents grow red lentils on their farm in Saskatchewan and I can’t begin to count the number of times my dad has recommended that I start cooking with more red lentils. He also likes it if we eat a lot of pasta, chickpeas and at one point before quinoa was mainstream, he was promoting quinoa.
Dad, this one is for you!
- 4 tilapia fillets, each approximately ¼ of a pound
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
Asian Red Lentils:
- ¾ cup dried whole red lentils
- 2 cups water
- ⅓ cup diced red onion
- 1½ teaspoon fresh ginger
- 2 teaspoon chili garlic sauce
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- ¼ cup reduced sodium soya sauce
- Drizzle the tilapia fillets with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Rub the olive oil into the tilapia and let sit in the refrigerator for 15 to 30 minutes.
- Wash the red lentils in a strainer and pick out any rocks. Put the red lentils into a small saucepan with 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Simmer for 20 minutes until the lentils are cooked, but still firm. Drain the lentils and set aside until ready to use.
- Combine red onion, ginger, chili garlic sauce, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar and soya sauce in a small saucepan and turn onto medium high heat. Bring to a boil and simmer on low for five minutes. Add the lentils and simmer together for five minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan. Add the tilapia to the pan and fry for 4 minutes per side.
- To serve, scoop lentils onto each plate and place a fillet of tilapia on top. Drizzle with the remaining liquid from the lentil mixture.