I love smoking fish and tilapia is one of the kinds that I have been smoking quite a bit lately. It has a mild flavour that works great when smoking. Usually, I prepare it and have separate side dishes to go along with the fish, but today I wanted to try something different.
I love rice pilaf as it is light and healthy. Thinking that a rice pilaf would go great with the smoked tilapia, I went to the store to purchase the needed ingredients.
While I was at the store, I saw the pineapple and that gave me the inspiration for this dish. I figured that the fruitiness of the pineapple would go great with a jerk seasoning on the fish. This was the first time I had every actually tried pineapple in a rice pilaf. It was excellent and provided such a nice tropical taste to the rice.
We all just loved it!
Since I had purchased a whole pineapple, I decided that using the pineapple for the actual plating could be fun.
So, I cut the pineapple in half from top to bottom and hollowed it out by scooping all the pineapple flesh out, leaving a nice pineapple bowl for holding the rice pilaf.
This worked really well for serving and the kids just loved scooping some of the rice pilaf from the pineapple bowls onto their plate.
I have come to love smoking tilapia. It is a very mild fish and works best when smoked with a nice rub or marinade. For this recipe, I used a jerk seasoning that goes perfect with the island flavours of the pineapple rice pilaf. The rub gives the fish a sweet spice taste. While it is excellent in this rice pilaf, I love it just on its own as well!
I smoke fish using a milder wood. Usually something like alder or apple will work to give the fish a nice mild smoke flavour.
For lean and thin fish like tilapia, I like to smoke it at a higher temperature than I usually do salmon or trout. I find it cooks the fish more quickly and does not dry it out.
So, I set the smoker for 275F and smoke the tilapia till it reaches an internal temperature of 145F. This usually takes about 2 hours, and maybe less, depending on your smoker.
Use a digital thermometer to check the internal temperature of the fish and make sure to stick the probe in the fattest part of the tilapia as that will be the last area of the fish to reach the target temp.
Use a very sharp and long knife to cut the pineapple in half from top to bottom.
Lay the pineapple on its side and start slicing it in half. For presentation purposes, I love to keep the pineapple leaves on the fruit, so I slice through those as well.
Be careful when you cut the leaves so that they don’t rip or fall off. Just take your time, slicing back and forth in long motions.
Once the pineapple has been halved, use a shorter knife to hollow it out. Cut along the edge, leaving about 1/2 inch from the outside rind of the pineapple.
After you have cut along the edge, use a spoon to scoop out all the pineapple. It does get tricky along that hard core in the middle, but take your time and you will be able to make a nice hollowed out pineapple half. Do this with the other half as well!
With all the pineapple flesh that was removed, cut away the hard core and discard. With the rest, dice it up into small chunks. Set aside for later.
In a wok, or large skillet, saute the onion, red pepper and garlic cloves with the oil.
Once, they are getting soft and the onion is transparent, add the pineapple and green onions and continue to fry.
Stir in the cooked rice and minced fresh cilantro. Make sure that you stir often and scrape the bottom of the pan to prevent the rice from sticking to the bottom of the wok or pan.
To serve, toss the rice pilaf with crumbled smoked tilapia. Then spoon the pilaf into the hollowed out pineapple half.
Smoked Jerk Tilapia with Pineapple Rice Pilaf
- 1 pound tilapia, around 3-4 fillets
- 1 tsp allspice
- 1 tsp nutmeg
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1/2 tsp ground cloves
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp oil
- 1 whole pineapple
- 1 red pepper, cored and diced
- 6 green onions, sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 6 cups cooked rice
- 3 tbsp cilantro, minced
- Make the jerk seasoning by mixing together the allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, garlic powder, ground ginger, black pepper, cayenne pepper, ground cloves and salt.
- Rub the jerk seasoning all over the fish.
- Set the smoker to 275F using wood of choice (alder, apple or other mild wood are great choices for fish).
- Place the fish fillets on a smoker rack and put the rack in the smoker. Smoke the fish until they reach an internal temperature of 145F, about 2 hours. Remove from the smoker.
- Cut the pineapple in half from top to bottom. Hollow out each pineapple half by scooping out all the pineapple flesh. Chop the pineapple fruit into small chunks and discard the tough core portion.
- Heat oil in a skillet or wok, to medium heat. Add diced red pepper and garlic cloves and saute for 3-4 minutes.
- Add the pineapple and green onions to the skillet and saute for another 5 minutes.
- Stir in the cooked rice and minced cilantro and fry for another 7-10 minutes. Heat the rice thoroughly and stir often, scraping the bottom of the skillet so the rice does not stick to the bottom.
- Remove from heat. Crumble the smoked tilapia in medium size chunks all over the rice and stir so the fish is mixed through the rice pilaf.
- Spoon the rice pilaf in the hollowed out pineapple halves and serve.