Tilapia is a wonder food. Mild, adaptable, and plentiful, it cooks quickly and can be prepared in a variety of ways. My favorite method (and it’s the quickest) is to steam over low heat in a covered skillet. No oil, no batter, no breading…just a few seasonings like lemon pepper and/or garlic salt. Even frozen, it’s done within 10-15 minutes. Fresh cooks faster. When preparing a meal, I typically cook my tilapia last. I don’t want to risk overcooking it, and I certainly don’t want to serve it cold.
When you shop for tilapia, keep in mind the recommendations of the Monterrey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch. Buy farmed-in-USA if available. Aquaculture is suited to the tilapia, making it a sustainable fish. If USA isn’t available, buy from Costa Rica, Equador, Honduras, or Brazil farms. Do not buy tilapia farmed in China or Taiwan! (For more information, consult the Monterrey Bay Aquarium Watch List.)
Tilapia is not a new fish. It’s most plentiful in Africa and the Middle East and is believed to be the fish Saint Peter caught. In the miracle of the loaves and fishes (Matthew 14:15-21) Jesus served the crowd of 5,000 from two tilapia and five loaves of bread. Bible scholars also believe tilapia was abundant in the Sea of Galilee (Lake of Tiberius) and would’ve been the fish Jesus served his disciples when He revealed Himself after the resurrection. That’s why some refer to tilapia as either Jesus’ fish or Saint Peter’s fish.
All I know is it’s delicious and nutritious, perfect for a Hasty Tasty Meal!
If you aren’t a seafood eater, you may want to skip this post. Although I joke about the joys of eating bacon, the reality is seafood is my favorite “meat.” Love, love, love fish–and for good reason. It’s healthful. It’s tasty. And it takes only minutes to cook, making it the star of Hasty Tasty Meals recipes.
For example, we picked up fresh tilapia (farm raised in South America) at the seafood counter. In less time than it would’ve taken us to go to a restaurant and order, I had dinner on the table. My secret? Cook everything else first. Fish last. Fish cooks quickly and tastes best when not overcooked. Unlike poultry, pork, or beef, it doesn’t require a thermometer to determine when it’s safely cooked. It turns from pink to pale in minutes and you’re done!
For what I call “Bimini Style” fish, I slice sweet peppers and onion. I season the tilapia fillets with Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.
I saute the peppers and onions in a preheated skillet (sprayed with Pam®) over medium/low heat.
After all my side dishes are underway (Today it’s fresh organic green beans and carrots in the pressure cooker for 9 minutes), I nestle the fish in with the peppers and onions. Low heat will cook the fish in minutes. Soon as I see the edges turn color, I carefully flip the fish using a long spatula.
By the time my sides cook, the fish is done, too. I serve with the peppers and onions piled on top. No fancy rubs or sauces needed. This is delicious food!
Don’t be intimidated by fish. Just follow these hints and you’ll be the star of your own seafood cooking show!