Pinaputok in Filipino kind of means “bursting” as in bursting in the seams. So in this recipe, the fish is stuffed with as much chopped onions and tomatoes as possible. Drizzled with a light butter mixture (or even anything as simple as oil, seasoned with salt and pepper) then wrapped in foil to cook–usually grilled, sometimes baked. The juices of the fish mix with the onions and tomatoes, trapped inside, giving the fish an ever so slightly enhanced, fresh and clean taste.
I had/have a thing with texture so I didn’t really like mushy things like steamed fish, for example. Nor fruits like papaya, avocado, and similarly textured others. Growing up, I’d only really want fried fish, and feel like anything else was a disrespect to the fish. (I now know that’s not true!)
I grew up in a small fishing town called Navotas, now a city, which despite being in Metro Manila is not a place most ‘city’ folks would have been to. We have fish ports. My dad has a lot of things he likes doing with fish, especially grilling it in foil. Any fish in foil would remind me of our backyard and how the fish would either turn out really well, or that it stuck to the foil! Haha!
This easy Pinaputok na Tilapia yields a healthy option which can be eaten on its own or just with a side of veggies, and is a No-rice Diet friendly recipe!
Pinaputok na Tilapia
- 2 small/medium tilapia
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 medium tomato, chopped
- 2 tbsp melted butter
- 1 tsp calamansi extract / juice
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven at 220C. Clean tilapia, score the fish once or twice on each side. Rub with salt, including the inside / cavity part. Set aside, let stand for 10 minutes. In a small bowl, mix butter and calamansi, season with pepper. Set aside.
- Mix chopped onions and tomatoes, and stuff inside each tilapia. Lay each fish on a sheet of aluminum foil big enough to cover entire fish. Drizzle butter-calamansi sauce on each side of the fish, and the remaining sauce on the inside of the fish.
- Cover and crumple sides of each tilapia securely to avoid steam and juices from oozing out. Place packets on a baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes or until cooked through. Serve with a dipping sauce of chili toyomansi (soy sauce, calamansi juice and chopped chili, according to taste.)