My favorite restaurant in Orange County is Habana, the original location in Costa Mesa (the Irvine location does not compare). They specialize in Cuban cuisine and everything from the ambiance to the food is *chef’s kiss. I have tried multiple items and there’s nothing I wouldn’t order again but my absolute favorite is the salmon plate. “Salmon at a Cuban restaurant?!” – I remember my boyfriend saying to me the first time we went there together. I know it’s not the most traditional but man – they do that fish dish SO WELL. After that date I turned a non-believer into a fan. Now, we both wrestle between who gets to order the salmon (it would be blasphemous to order two of the same items when eating together!) and who must order the ‘other’ dish.
The number one selling point on the salmon is the incredible tomato-based sauce that accompanies the fish. It is perfectly balanced, goes well with the fish, and is even delicious when mixed with the rice and beans. I always ask for extra sauce and I will never be ashamed of loving it. I would eat there every night if I could but that doesn’t bode well with my bank account, so I tried making it at home. The version I made isn’t exactly like the Habana’s version, but it is an inspiration. I prefer cooking and eating white fish, so I replaced salmon as the main protein. For the sauce, it is a flavorful tomato base that is spicy, garlicky, and it complements fish well. However if you as me, it complements everything well! Try it out, I think you might get hooked 😉
White Fish with Tomatoes, Garlic and Quinoa
Description: A beautiful plate of perfectly cooked fish on top of a delicious tomato based sauce. Perfect for a quarantine date night to impress your boo!
Serving Size: 2
I N G R E D I E N T S:
- ½ Cup Tri Colored Quinoa
- 1 Cup Water
- ¼ Tsp Garlic Powder
- 2 Cod Filet (or whichever other fish is your favorite)
- 2 Thin Slice of Butter
- 2 Thin Slice of Lemon
- Paprika or Cajun Seasoning
- Spray of cooking oil
- ½ Tsp Olive Oil
- 13 Cherry Tomatoes Cut in Half
- 4 Cloves Garlic Minced
- ¼ – ½ Tsp Salt (More to taste)
- ¼ Tsp Pepper
- Juice of ¼ a lemon
- ¼ Cup Oatly (or preferred milk)
- ½ Tsp Chili Flakes
- Handful of Spinach* (Optional)
I N S T R U C T I O N S:
- Rinse quinoa prior to cooking, do so in a mesh strainer or in a bowl and then strain the water out using your hands.
- To prepare the fish, spray lightly with cooking oil, season the filets lightly with paprika or Cajun seasoning. Just a few sprinkles front and back.
- In a small pot combine all quinoa ingredients. Over medium-high heat let quinoa come to a boil. After it boils for 1-2 minute, lower the heat down to a simmer. Allow quinoa to cook for 10-15 minutes until there is no more water.
- Once Quinoa is cooking, place the fish in the air fryer with a piece of butter on each of the filets, and the lemon slice on top of the butter. Cook for 10-13 minutes at 400 degrees.
- After quinoa is done cooking, take off the heat and leave the quinoa covered for another 5 minutes. Set aside.
- While the quinoa and fish are cooking, you can make the sauce. Add olive oil and garlic into a sauce pan and cook until fragrant. Add in cherry tomatoes and cook until wilted. Next, add in the lemon juice and stir. After that, add in salt (1/4 tsp first), pepper and chili flakes – then the oat milk. Stir and let sauce combine – taste to see if it is to your liking, add more salt if necessary. Last, add in the handful of spinach and wilt.
- Plate the quinoa first, then the cod on top, and then pour the sauce onto the plate last. Enjoy all together!
- You can cook the quinoa, fish and sauce one after the other if it is too hectic to combine all three at the same time. I would cook the quinoa, sauce, and then fish last so that the fish does not sit out waiting for long.
- You can also bake your fish in the oven. 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes.
- You can leave the skin on the fish and place in air fryer with skin side facing down. This can leave you wish a juicier piece of fish and yum! Who doesn’t love crispy skin.
- For larger meals increase the amount of quinoa per person. Remember the 1:2 ratio for grain to water – 2 cups of water for every 1 cup of quinoa. Each 1 cup of dry quinoa will yield 3 cups of cooked quinoa.
- TSA Approved?: As much as I love this recipe, it would be ill-advise if I told you to bring fish on the plane! No fish in small spaces and no fish in the office – follow these rules and you will not be getting death stares from any one.