Tilapia is a fish of the people. Not a fish solely for seafood enthusiasts, or people with a highly refined palate. Tilapia boasts a low fat content, so it’s great for calorie counters and a perfect lean alternative to fattier fish, poultry, and beef. It has a fine, meaty texture that fits well in recipes of all kinds: on salads, in tacos, or simply encrusted with a shiitake mushroom breading and baked – you name it, tilapia will deliver. Tilapia’s delicate, sweet flavor is an ideal match for almost any cooking method you can imagine. Grilling tilapia, for one, is capital-S simple, and offers a surefire way to perfectly cook your tilapia every time. Here’s how to grill tilapia effortlessly.
Start with High-Quality Tilapia Fillets
Something to keep in mind when it comes selecting seafood: frozen is fresher. Tilapia is no exception. For the best quality, purchase frozen tilapia. Try to avoid the raw and thawed fillets you find at supermarket fish counters, as there’s little way to know how long the raw fillets have been exposed to open air. The longer they sit, the more likely they are be unsafe. Always choose tilapia that was responsibly sourced and frozen just hours after harvest. Firm, bright white surface flesh that’s free of any pink or brown spotting indicates that your tilapia is fresh and safe.
(DON’T) Thaw Your Tilapia Fillets
Tilapia is unique in that it features a lower water and fat content than many other fish varieties. While a lack of fat makes for a leaner fish, it also means less moisture renders out of the fish as it cooks. Fattier fish like salmon release excess fat and moisture as they cook, which can result in a limp, soggy fillet, depending on your cooking method. Not so with tilapia. You can take tilapia directly from your freezer to its cooking source without thawing the fillet first. While freezing doesn’t strip tilapia of its mild, sweet flavor, of course you’ll still want to prep and season your frozen fillets before grilling to bring out the best in your fish.
Grill Your Tilapia Like This
Grilling tilapia is about as straightforward as it gets. Season your tilapia to taste. We recommend a basic salt, pepper, and garlic dusting, or standard lemon-pepper seasoning – just something to compliment tilapia’s naturally subtle flavor. If you choose to cook your tilapia directly on the grill grates, be sure to thoroughly lubricate your cooking surface to prevent sticking. A generous spritz of cooking spray will do the trick. Grill your tilapia fillets about 3 minutes per side, then remove them from your grill and tent them under foil for an extra 2 minutes to allow them time to reach peak doneness. Double the time per side if you choose to grill your tilapia inside a foil packet. When cooked fully, your fillets should be firm and opaque – not too flaky. Try some of these tilapia recipes and enjoy!
Other Ways to Cook Tilapia