Nutrition Notes100 grams (3.5 oz.) of tilapia provides approximately 93 calories, with 1 gram of fat (0.5 g saturated), 55 mg cholesterol, 37 g sodium, 0.5 mg iron, 19.5 g protein, and 90 mg Omega-3 fatty acids.
Tilapia comes in several colors, with red (Oreochromis mossambica) and black tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) being the most well-known species. Once prepared, the meat of both varieties is white.
Both types of tilapia can thrive in fresh or salt water, and the taste can vary depending upon the water type in which it is raised. However, when raised correctly, both fresh and salt-water raised tilapia will have similar flavour. Wild tilapia can have a muddy or inconsistent flavour while aquacultured tilapia is more consistently mild and sweet.
Tilapia is available year-round. Fresh whole tilapia may be available in some stores, but fresh or frozen fillets weighing 4 to 7 ounces (114 to 200 grams) are more common.
Fresh: When buying fresh, whole fish, look for: bright, clear, full eyes; shiny, brightly coloured skin; fresh, mild odour; firm flesh that clings tightly to the bones and springs back when pressed with a finger; red to bright pink gills, free of slime or residue. Choose tilapia that is moist and resilient; avoid cuts that have a musky odor. Fresh fish should not smell fishy, but should smell sea-fresh.
Frozen: Raw frozen fish should be solidly frozen, odourless and tightly wrapped in an undamaged, moisture- and vapourproof material. Avoid white, dark, icy or dry spots, which indicate damage through drying or deterioration. Thaw in the refrigerator for 24 hours before using (based on 1-pound package). For faster thawing, place the wrapped, frozen fish in cold water and allow 1 hour to thaw a 1-pound package. Do not use fish that has been thawed and refrozen, since texture and flavour quality deteriorate with refreezing. Discard fish that is mushy when thawed.
StoringFresh fish should be immediately refrigerated (32-38F or 0-3C), tightly wrapped, and used within a day (two at the most). Thawed tilapia should be stored and used similarly. Do not refreeze. Frozen tilapia will stay fresh for up to four months if it is wrapped tightly and stored at 0F (-18C).
Tilapia is extremely versatile; its lean white meat has a delicate flavour that is very mildly sweet. It can be baked, grilled, fried, broiled, steamed, sautéed, poached, blackened, stir-fried, microwaved, and used in bouillabaisse or other fish soups. Its mild flavour and adaptability make it ideal for your favourite sauce or marinade. It is an excellent substitute in recipes calling for many kinds of fish including sole, snapper, pompano, flounder, cod, sea bass, and orange roughy.
When marinating tilapia, be sure to do so for only a short time or the marinade will start to break down the structure of the meat. Tilapia skin has a bitter flavour and should be removed before eating.
Barbecuing Small, thin tilapia fillets are excellent grilled and go well with most seasonings. Take care during preparation as they can tear.
Baking Preheat oven to 400F (200C). Place fresh or thawed fillets in buttered or oiled baking dish. Brush fillets with melted butter or olive oil and season. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Serve with pan juices spooned over fillets.
Sautéing Heat 2 tablespoons (30 mL) of oil or butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Season fresh or thawed fillets and place in hot skillet. Cook for approximately 2 to 4 minutes on each side until fish flakes easily. For additional flavour, spritz with lemon juice after turning.
Did You Know?
- Tilapia are sometimes also called St. Peter's Fish, Hawaiian Sun Fish, Cherry Snapper, Nile Perch, and Sunshine Snapper.
- Legend says that Tilapia was the fish Christ multiplied a thousand-fold to feed the masses.
Enjoy tilapia in virtually any dish suited to a mild, adaptable fish.
- Try tilapia in egg dishes such as omelets and bakes.
- Serve gently steamed tilapia fillets flavoured with lemon and herbs as part of a brunch spread.
- Prepare tilapia as a part of a savoury brunch, such as that served in the Uptown Brunch is this inn menu
- Make up a batch of fish chowder, including chunks of tilapia, for a hearty and filling weekday lunch.
- Plan leftovers from any of the tilapia dinner recipes we've compiled. Mixed dishes like soups and stews can be served up with a whole grain roll and rounded out with some easy veggies for a satisfying lunch.
- Prepare a tilapia ceviche as an appetizer.
- Use tilapia pieces in a stir-fry recipe instead of the usual beef or chicken.
- Tilapia pieces can also be used in pasta dishes.
- Use fresh tilapia in casseroles.
- Try any of the great tilapia recipes we've compiled.