This is a rich, "coconuty" dish that's great for the winter months. I used to make this all the time for Urban Tastes 1.0 and it was always popular so consider this tried and true. It's easy to make and comes together quickly. The lime juice adds a punch to it and cuts the richness of the coconut milk a bit.
There are any number of things to serve this with, the most obvious being rice. I sometimes used to make it with black rice or a mixture of black rice and white or brown rice. You could also eat it with an Asian noodle. It's a soupy-curry-like dish when complete. Sorry for the lack of photos of the final product---the sun was disappearing as I took the photos above.
The lime leaves may be hard to get in some areas, so I've included another option which is what I used yesterday as I made this. All I could find was one tiny freezer-burned lime leaf in my freezer. Not ideal. But if you have a Thai grocer in your area, that would be the place to find it (and the fish sauce too!).
1 T olive oil 2 cloves garlic, minced 1 shallot, minced 2 T fish sauce (if not available, soy or tamari sauce works) 4 tilapia fillets (you could use any white fish really) 1 can (15 oz) coconut milk 1/2 c stock: fish, veg or chicken 4 T lime juice 1-2 kaffir lime leaves, chopped (if not available, the zest of the limes above will work nicely)
Gently heat olive oil in a large pan that's big enough to easily put the four fillets in. Add garlic and shallot and cook on medium-low for about 5 minutes. Stir occasionally. Add fish sauce and cook for 20 seconds or so. Stir in coconut milk and cook until simmering. Add tilapia and cook through, approximately 5 minutes depending on the thickness of your fish. Turn heat off and add lime juice and lime leaves or zest and stir gently. It's a bit tricky to stir it well with the delicate pieces of fish inside the pan. Another option is to plate just the fish---be gentle here--and stir in the lime juice and leaves after removing the fish and then pour this mixture over your fish.