Once upon a time, I found myself growing weary of my standard main dishes of which my children would deign to partake. I would stock up on chicken breasts and ground beef or turkey, on sale, but it was becoming boring.
â€œWhat should I make for dinner tonight?â€ I queried a friend, in desperation.
â€œTilapia!â€ she replied.
â€œGesundheit,â€ I countered.
It turns out that she wasnâ€™t sneezing. Sheâ€™d been keeping this secret from me! But now I am wise to the magic that is tilapia.
Now, either you know tilapia and you are nodding in agreement, or you are looking askance at me and seriously considering calling someone who might be able toâ€¦ you knowâ€¦ help me. But I do not need help! Because I have lots and lots of tilapia!
Alright. Tilapia, or St. Peterâ€™s fish, has all sorts of great things going for it. Observe:
1. It is cheap. Very cheap.
2. It is healthy. Itâ€™s a low-fat, high-protein white fish with all of those omega-3 happy acids. (Ha! Happy acids!)
3. It is something of the tofu of the fish world; it has a very mild, unassuming taste, which makes it perfect for a plethora of recipes.
4. It cooks very quickly, making it ideal just-got-home-now-whatâ€™s-for-dinner fare.
5. Sometimes it is the theme ingredient on Iron Chef America! Battle Tilapia, baybee!
Donâ€™t you turn up your nose at me, muttering something about how your kids (or maybe even you) donâ€™t like fish. My kids â€œdonâ€™t likeâ€ fish, either. And they love tilapia. It is the anti-fish fish. It all depends on how you prepare it.
Now hereâ€™s the best part: At my grocery store, I can buy a 4-pound box of individually sealed frozen tilapia filets for about $12. Each filet weighs maybe 3 ouncesâ€¦ one filet per personâ€¦ carry the 4â€¦ well, according to my math, that works out to somewhere around eleventy hundred meals on that one box. (Okay, in all seriousness? We eat tilapia at least one night a week, sometimes two. The box will easily last us for up to three months. And there is no greater convenience than being able to grab out however many pieces we need for each meal.)
My most common preparation (and my sonâ€™s favorite) is to sprinkle the fish with salt, pepper, lemon and rosemary, then broil the filets a few minutes on each side to cook. The last step is to smear the top with a mixture of lemon, mayonnaise, bread crumbs, and parmesan cheese; another minute under the broiler gives the topping a nice crunch. My daughter prefers the even easier method of a liberal smothering in feta cheese and tomatoes.
But heyâ€”your tastes may not be the same as ours. Check out these recipes. Or perhaps these recipes. Or maybe even these recipes. (I wasnâ€™t kidding about it being versatile.)
Serve with rice and your veggie of choice. We often have it with caesar salad (which I buy in a bag, because Iâ€™m fancy that way). Use the money you saved to buy ice cream for dessert, because dude, you just got your kids to eat fish.
We love tilapia as well – the kids gobble it up. One variation so as to not turn the (hydro sucking) oven on: wrap it in tin foil, add a little olive oil, lemon lime and your fave spices and BBQ it. Lovely!
Funny – we were talking about buying some tilapia last night. We’ve been eating salmon lately, and I drizzle this seasoned basting oil on that – and then bake it. It comes out awesome too! Thanks for the recommendation!
Welove tilapia too. I like to saute some onions and green peppers, add some tomates and spice it up a bit with chili powder – add the tilapia – only it only takes a couple of minutes to cook and serve over rice. It’s great!!
I’m among those who had never heard of this before, but being as you’re so smart (and pretty), I think I may try this out. Can’t beat eleventy-hundred servings per box!
The best part about frozen tilapia is that there is no need to defrost. 30 minutes at 400 degrees works great. Spread some pesto on top first and it is great. OR spread a little dijon and sprinkle with fresh parmesan cheese. OR season with old bay and top with a can of drained diced tomatoes with basil and garlic. OR…well, you can see I love me some tilapia.
Seriously? 4 lb box for $12? Where do you shop and how far is it from here to there?
I like the quick cooking factor. I’m the one who makes the quick dinners after work when everyone’s exhausted and hungry. I’ll put it on my shopping list!
We all love fish but I hadn’t thought of Talapia. Saw Iron Chef last night and all the fancy talapia dishes and didn’t dream it could be so cheap. Definately bringing it home from the grocery store next time. Thanks!
I like to pan-fry whole tilapia (yes, head and all!) then eat it with steamed rice and kimchee. Very good. I imagine you could also do this with the fillets.
Ooohhh Michelle that sounds AMAZING. But I’m sure my son would be very offended by kimchee, alas. Maybe I’ll try that for me and my spicy-loving daughter!
now this is a regional tip – but if you are like me and live down in the south where catfish is quite plentiful ( and whooboy cheap) most of the year it’s good to remember that anything you can do with tilapia you can do with catfish.
we eat it all the time here too, it’s the only fish my kids will eat willingly. I make a bread crumb and parmesean recipe that was on the price sticker on my tilapia. We now buy it at Sam’s, along with our other meat, chicken, and pork purchases.
I saw a great recipe on one of Rachel Ray’s shows (Food Network) for Sesame Red Snapper. I substituted tilapia and it is GREAT! I thaw the fish, season with salt & pepper, press into a plate of sesame seeds, and pan fry it in olive oil (other oil tastes not-as-good). So easy and good! We eat it with white rice and salad. (I wish I could find good kimchee around here, Michelle!)
You buy salad in a bag? How un-Mir like. 🙂
My wife and I also like tilapia (but I must say, I hate the connotation of comparing it to tofu). We prefer to buy fresh (healthier, requires less fossil fuel since it does not need to be transported and stored in a frozen state), so we will pay a bit more, but even then is still a great value.
I’m so late for the party! I SUCK!
This site rules… which is probably because you rule… and, like everyone else says, you’re pretty!