When my sister and I left for college, my mom dealt with her empty nester status by literally moving herself and my father across the world to the Philippines, where she’d been assigned to open a new branch of her company. She packed her suitcases full of wine (this actually happened) and made the big move from Texas to East Asia, where she stayed for almost three years. Filipino cuisine is not the friendliest to vegetarians, so while she was there, she decided to start eating fish. She sourced a few recipes from her fancy friend Shanti, who is from Kerala (the coastal, seafood-loving part of India), and his kachumber tilapia became a regular in her dinner rotation. It’s incredibly straightforward, with a simple marinade of ginger, chiles, and garlic and a topping of kachumber, a limey Indian salad. In addition to being quite healthy yet intensely flavorful, it’s also the only fish dish I’ve ever had that actually reheats really nicely--just keep the kachumber topping separate.
Marinate the fish: In a dish that will fit all four fillets, mix together the lime juice, garlic, ginger, green chiles, and red chile powder. Sprinkle the fillets on both sides with the salt, then place the fish in the dish with the marinade, turning each fillet to coat both sides. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours if time allows.
Meanwhile, make the kachumber topping: In a medium bowl, combine the cucumber, tomatoes, cilantro, salt, and lime juice. Set aside.
Cook the fish: In a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, warm the oil. Once the oil begins to shimmer, add the fish fillets and the marinade. (If you can’t fit all the fillets in the pan at one time, cook them in two batches, using 1 tablespoon of the oil for each.) Cook the fish for 3 to 5 minutes, until the fillets are becoming golden on the underside and the top is starting to flake, then flip and cook for 3 minutes on the second side--again, you should see flaking on top.