For many people, fish isn’t at the top of their to-cook list. This is often because of the aroma, texture or taste of fish or the unfamiliarity of cooking fish-based meals.
However, fresh Tilapia from Mexico or Honduras or frozen Kirkland Tilapia Loins from Costco are unlike the others. Because Tilapia has such a mild flavor and a texture close to that of chicken, this is a good fish to try if you’ve previously renounced seafood for good. Plus, Tilapia is high in protein and low in fat, making it the ideal fish to include in your healthy diet.
If you’re feeling adventurous and are wanting to try fish, even with picky eaters in your household, here are some recipes to get you reacquainted with fish.
1. Ginger and Cilantro Baked Tilapia
Photo credit: The Kitchn
If you like stir-fry and Asian-inspired meals, you will for sure love this recipe from The Kitchn. These fillets are seasoned with garlic, ginger and cilantro, which pairs well with fresh vegetables and brown rice. Not only is it easy to prepare, but it’s simple to double this recipe and make lunches for the week.
1 pound Tilapia fillets or other thin fish fillet
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
3 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1-inch piece fresh ginger, grated (about 1 tablespoon)
1 jalapeño pepper, roughly chopped (optional)
1/3 cup roughly chopped cilantro leaves
1/4 cup white wine
2 tablespoons soy sauce (or gluten-free tamari)
1 teaspoon sesame oil
Scallions, chopped for garnish
Extra cilantro, to garnish
Instructions: Heat the oven to 475°F. Pat the fish dry, season lightly with salt and pepper, and lay in a 9×9-inch or 8×8-inch ceramic or glass baking dish.
Combine the garlic, grated ginger, chopped jalapeño, cilantro, white wine, soy sauce, and sesame oil in a small food processor. Process until blended. (Alternately, you can finely chop or mash the garlic, ginger, jalapeño and cilantro in a mortar and pestle, then whisk together with the liquid ingredients.)
Pour the sauce over the fish, rubbing it in a little. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the fish flakes easily and is cooked through. It will be very moist and even a little gelatinous, still.
Serve immediately over brown rice or orzo, garnished with the additional scallions and cilantro.
2. Spicy Tilapia
Photo credit: Food.com
If you like your food spicy, this recipe from Food.com is for you. Tilapia is quite versatile to work with—it can be pan-fried in minutes or it can be cooked low-and-slow like it is in this recipe. The combination of oregano, basil and chili powder awaken your taste buds! Simply season the fillets in the mixture once they’re done cooking on low heat, serve with a side of quinoa and sautéed vegetables.
3 Tilapia fillets (about 1 lb)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
2 teaspoons chili powder
¼ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter
½ cup lemon juice
Instructions: Place fish in a glass pan and preheat oven to 350°F. Combine and melt the butter and lemon juice in the microwave, then pour over the fillets. Sprinkle the remaining ingredients (vary the amounts of each to your liking). Bake for 30 minutes and enjoy!
3. Tilapia ‘n’ Chips
Photo credit: Rachael Ray
Who doesn’t love fish ‘n’ chips!? This is the essential beginner’s seafood dish and a classic favorite. Best of all, this recipe from Rachel Ray Mag doesn’t require a deep fryer or any fancy cooking to make even the pickiest of eaters hungry!
2 large russet potatoes (1 1/2 lbs), peeled and cut into 12 wedges
1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
1 cup seltzer or club soda
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
Canola oil, for frying
4 4-5 ounces Tilapia fillets
Tartar sauce, for serving
Instructions: Preheat the oven to 450°F. Rinse the potatoes and pat dry with paper towels. Toss with olive oil and Old Bay; arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake until golden and crisp, 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk the seltzer, flour and salt until nearly smooth. In a large heavy skillet, heat 1/2 inch canola oil over medium. Pat the fish dry with paper towels. Working with one fillet at a time, dip the fish into the batter, coating both sides, then carefully place in the skillet. Cook the fish, turning once, until batter is puffy and light golden, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Serve with the fries and tartar sauce.
4. Spinach and Feta Stuffed Tilapia
Photo credit: The Wholesome Dish
These fillets are flavored with fresh spinach, creamy ricotta cheese and tangy feta cheese for a bite. At only 181 calories and 21 grams of protein per serving, this dish from Wholesome Dish is great to have for dinner or on a warm summer evening.
12-16 oz. Tilapia fillets (4-6 thin fillets)
Pinch of salt and pepper
1 egg, beaten
½ cup part-skim ricotta cheese
½ cup crumbled feta cheese
½ cup bread crumbs
1 cup fresh spinach leaves, chopped
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. ground black pepper
¼ tsp. dried thyme leaves
1 large lemon
Instructions: Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 2 quart baking dish with cooking spray. Pat fish dry with paper towels and sprinkle each with a pinch of salt and pepper. In a small bowl, mix the egg with the ricotta until smooth. Add the feta, bread crumbs, spinach, ¼ tsp. salt, ¼ tsp. black pepper, and thyme. Mix until well combined.
Divide the filling between the fish fillets, placing the filling on the widest end of the fillet. Roll the fish around the filling. Secure the seam with toothpicks, if needed.
Place the stuffed fish, seam-side down in the baking dish. Squeeze the juice of 1 lemon over the top of the stuffed fish. Cover and bake for 25 minutes. The stuffing should be cooked through and the fish should flake when touched with a fork.
5. Panko-Crusted Tilapia
Photo credit: A Sweet Pea Chef
One of the simplest (and most delicious) ways to appreciate meat, especially fish, is to enjoy it breaded and cooked—and this recipe from A Sweet Pea Chef really appreciates fish. Panko crumbs are used frequently by chefs because they give food a distinct crunch without making it too greasy. With the flavors of ground ginger, ground nutmeg, pepper and even dry mustard in the breading, this Tilapia is seasoned well enough for any picky eater to forget that they’re eating fish.
½ cup unsalted butter, melted
¼ tsp. garlic powder
2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup unseasoned Panko breadcrumbs
1½ tsp. dry mustard
1½ tsp. ground black pepper
¾ tsp. ground nutmeg
½ tsp. ground ginger
½ tsp. paprika
½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
½ tbsp. olive oil
2 Tilapia fillets, rinsed and patted dry
Optional: thinly sliced lemons for garnish
Instructions: Preheat oven to 375°F. In a medium-sized, shallow dish, combine melted butter, garlic powder and freshly squeezed lemon juice. Set aside. In another medium-sized, shallow dish, combine Panko breadcrumbs and the rest of the dry seasonings. Mix well.
Gently coat each fillet with the butter mixture and then with the Panko mixture, taking care to coat with as much Panko coating as possible.
Heat olive oil over high heat in a non-stick, oven-safe skillet. Once oil and pan are hot, add the Panko-coated fillets. Pour the remaining lemon-butter mixture over and around the fish and carefully pat as much of the remaining Panko coating on the fish as possible. Throw in a few thinly sliced lemons to brown as well (if you wish, for garnish and added lemon flavor). Heat on high until the bottom side turns golden brown and the butter starts to brown, about 2-4 minutes. Careful not to burn the butter or the fish.
Once the bottom side is golden brown, carefully flip the fillets over and place the skillet into the oven. Bake until the fish breaks apart easily with the twist of a fork, about 10-12 minutes, depending on the size of the fillets. Careful not to overcook at this point.
Remove from the oven and serve immediately. Garnish with a slice of lemon.
These are only a few of the different ways to enjoy Tilapia, all of which even a regular fish-naysayer will have to admit are pretty tasty. For more inspiration, check out some other recipes here.
Photo credit: Picjumbo