Grilled Tilapia, Swiss Chard & Bok Choy

I am intrigued with Asian flavors!

My BBQ Goal this year is to figure out ways to incorporate Asian flavors into what would be traditional “American Style”  grilling and barbecue.  Tonight’s dinner was grilled Tilapia with grilled swiss chard and grilled baby bok choy.  After grilling the swiss chard and bok choy it was tossed in a flavorful Korean style vinaigrette that sort of reminded me of  a vinegar dressing on cole slaw.

The sauce for the swiss chard has to sit for 30 minutes after mixing so while the chimney of charcoal was getting ready I mixed up the sauce and removed the veins from the swiss chard.

Korean Vinegar Sauce
Recipe Type: BBQ Sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Sesame Seeds
  • 6 tablespoons Soy Sauce (I used Ohsawa Nama Shoyu, see below)
  • 4 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons ginger, minced (I used minced ginger from Garlic People)
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons, chopped cilantro
  • Thai chiles, finely chopped
  • Kochujang, to taste
  1. In a skillet, on high heat, toast the sesame seed until they are a light golden brown. It takes about 5 minutes so watch them, they burn least that's my experience. Mix all the other ingredients together and add the toasted sesame seeds. Let the mixture "age" for at least 30 minutes.

A couple of things to consider when making this sauce…


Thai Chili 

This recipe calls for using Thai chiles and/or Kochujang.  Both of these ingredients are hot.  Each adds a little different flavor.  I used a little of both.  My recommendation is you start with a little finely chopped Thai chili and then add the Kochujang until you get the heat level you want.

Kochujang: A hot chili pepper paste made from red chilies and fermented soybeans. Used in Korean cooking as a condiment, marinade, and flavoring for stir fries, soups, and stews. –(

Thai Chiles: This is also known as Birdseye, thai chile, Fresh Thai chile peppers and/or thai chile peppers.  These little peppers are about an inch long and very hot. Green ones are not ripe, and red are ripe, but you eat either one and mix them together for color.  Red ones are sometimes dried and ground then put on the table as a condiments. (Thai Table)
I cleaned the Tilapia, fortunately it came with the scales removed, and cut a couple of slits in each side.  The slits help the fish cook evenly and they look nice when the fish has been grilled.  The tilapia was seasoned with just a little salt and pepper.  I probably should have seasoned the fish with something with a little more kick, but it still tasted great.
While the fish is grilling remove the veins from the swiss chard stems and cut the baby bok choy in half.  Make sure they are clean then dry them all completely.  Rub olive oil on each swiss chard leaf and the baby bok choy.  Once the fish is grilled and resting layer the swiss chard and bok choy on the hot grill.  Keep turning the chard until it starts to brown and is fulling wilted.  When the swiss chard and bok choy are grilled put them in a bowl and spoon the Korean Vinegar  sauce over the top and toss.  Plate immediately.  Spoon a little of the sauce over the fish and serve.
Editor’s Note:

I came away from this year’s Fancy Food Show with a bottle of Ohsawa brand Nama Shoyu.  This recipe was the first chance I had to use this soy sauce.  According to Gold Mine Natural Foods, the importer of this product from Japan:

The spring water used to make Ohsawa® Organic Nama® Shoyu comes from a small Japanese mountain village called Kamiizumisui (“God Spring”). Dr. Masaru Emoto, Director of the Hado Institute in Tokyo and author of Hidden Messages in Water, has water crystal photographs from this spring that reflect its beneficial effects. Optimal well-being literally comes from good vibrations. When we take in good vibrations, they correct distorted frequencies within our cells, assisting our health and healing. Kamiizumisui water has been filtered through Chichibu paleozoic granite strata slowly for 1,400 years. It is scientifically proven to be “rare water, full of life-energizing force,” with twice the surfactant potency and 18% more enzyme activity than ordinary water. Its pH is very close to that of the human body. Enjoy Ohsawa® Organic Nama® Shoyu’s full-bodied flavor and exquisitely delicate bouquet, whether you’re using it at the table or in cooking.

• Unpasteurized – Fresh & Alive!
• Made with mountain spring water
• Naturally low in sodium
• Naturally aged over two summers in 150-yr-old cedar kegs
• No added alcohol or preservatives
• Certified Organic
• Certified Kosher by Kof-K

My experience with soy sauce, I will admit is somewhat limited.  Usually my soy sauce decisions are reserved to whether or not I get the green lid or the red lid at the sushi restaurant.  Soy sauce has always been a salty liquid to mix my wasabi in.  That all changed when I tasted the Nama Shoyu.   This stuff is different it has a mellow flavor that doesn’t overpower other foods.  Others have described this soy sauce as having a “delicate bouquet.”  I’ve always thought it was humorous when people talked about foods like they were a wine.  Well, if the truth be known I think it’s funny to listen to people talk about wine.  Anyway,  Nama Shoyu  does indeed have a delicate bouquet.  One of the risks I’m having to learn to deal with when people send me specialty products to try is that I might actually like them.  That’s the case with Nama Shoyu.  I can’t explain it really, but I’ve been totally ruined when it comes to soy sauce.  No more generic, mass produced soy sauce for me.

6 Comments on Grilled Tilapia, Swiss Chard & Bok Choy

  1. When I first saw the title, I got worried that I had missed a On Our Grills/Four Ingredient challenge, ha ha.

  2. Wow. Just wow. I live in a house divided… as I am an omnivore and my girlfriend is a seafood only sort. This is yet another fantastic recipe to go in the “Make some Attaboy Points” box!

    Question on the fish – as I’ve yet to brave fish on the grill when not wrapped in foil. Is there anything I need to do to prevent sticking/ burning?

    Thanks for the post. Putting it up via Hootsuite on my BBQ Smoker Site page on FB now!

    • Thanks Kevin. A couple of key things when grilling a whole fish. Make sure you’ve removed all the scales and clean the fish throughly. Dry the outside of the fish and put a light coat of olive oil all over the fish. Oil the fish and NOT the grates. Make sure your grates are clean and toss the fish right on the grates. Now comes the tricky part. Don’t turn the fish until it’s ready. If you try to turn the fish to soon it will stick. As the fish cooks it will release natural oils which will release it from the grates. The tilapia I cooked took about 5 minutes per side. No turning before it’s ready…

  3. Thanks, Larry. Now – what are your thoughts on fish fillets on the grill. Skin on vs. skin off make a difference? I’m determined to master fish on the grill this year!

    • Skin off for me. Again, oil the fish not the grates. If it’s nice thick salmon or tuna fillets they go directly on the grates. If they are thinner fillets, like catfish or tilapia then I use a grill basket.

  4. Just….WOW! That is a gorgeous dish, and we love how you grilled the chard AND the bok choy, too! We’re going to feature this on our Facebook page and link here so people can see how you did it, and your lovely photography. If you wish, come LIKE us on Facebook for more recipes and tips on Asian green vegetables like baby bok choy, gai lan, dau miu, yu choy, etc.

    –Your friendly Southern California farmers at Jade Asian Greens

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