Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Tilapia for All Cuisines

When you think about dinner you may not think of fish. Maybe you should. According to, "Fish is generally low in calories, saturated fat, and cholesterol." The American Heart Association recommends at least two servings of fish a week, especially fish with omega-3 fatty acids. Have you tried tilapia?

Seared Tilapia with Mango Watermelon Salsa

This warm water fish originally came from Africa. It is farm-raised in Africa, Asia, South America, Canada, China, and the US. China is a major producer of frozen tilapia and sells it in huge lots. But "Seafood Business" magazine says the quality of Chinese frozen fillets varies greatly. "Once you find a label that meets your quality requirements, stick with it," the magazine advises.
This mild fish may be adapted to all cuisines and cooking methods. As with all frozen fish, tilapia should be handled properly. Mayo Clinic says frozen fish should not be stored for more than six months. Frozen fish should be defrosted in the refrigerator. Finally, Mayo Clinic says you should cook fish 10 minutes for every inch of thickness.
When this fish is enhanced and seasoned it is absolutely delicious. These two recipes -- Batter Fried Tilapia With Lemon and Tilapia With Stir-Fried Summer Vegetables -- may make you a member of the tilapia fan clubs. Get your kids to try it, too.
12-ounce package frozen tilapia fillets
1/2 cup corn meal
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt free lemon pepper seasoning
3/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 egg, room temperature
1/2 cup skim milk
2 tablespoons (more if needed) extra light olive oil
2 lemons
Defrost fillets according to package directions. Dry with paper towels and set aside. Combine corn meal, flour, lemon pepper seasoning, onion powder, and paprika in shallow bowl. In another shallow bowl combine egg and skim milk.
Pour olive oil into cast iron skillet or non-stick frying pan. Cut the ends off the lemons and add them to the oil. Dip fillets into flour mixture, egg mixture, and flour mixture again. Fry the fillets until they are golden brown and crispy. Garnish with lemon wedges. Makes four servings.
12-ounce package frozen tilapia fillets
1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced
1/2 green pepper, thinly sliced
1 small zucchini, thinly sliced
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
3/4 teaspoon salt free lemon pepper seasoning
Defrost fish according to package directions. Dry fillets with paper towels and set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking pan with no-stick aluminum foil and coat with cooking spray. Lay fillets in pan and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon lemon pepper seasoning. Bake for about 8 minutes.
Coat a cast iron skillet with cooking spray. Stir fry onions, peppers and zucchini on medium-high heat. Add cherry tomatoes and remainder of lemon pepper seasoning. Place one fillet on each plate and top with summer vegetables. Makes four servings.
Copyright 2007 by Harriet Hodgson
Harriet Hodgson has been a freelance nonfiction writer for 28 years. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists and the Association for Death Education and Counseling. Before she became a health writer she was a food writer for a local magazine. Her 24th book, "Smiling Through Your Tears: Anticipating Grief," written with Lois Krahn, MD, is available from A five-star review of the book is posted on Amazon. You will find other reviews on the American Hospice Foundation Web site (School Corner heading) and the Health Ministries Association Web site.