It’s no secret why tilapia has become a household name in seafood. Tilapia simply has so much going for it, from its delicate and mild, yet distinct flavor, right down to how incredibly easy it is to prepare. Perhaps its versatility has something do with its rise in popularity. After all, it’s ideal in so many recipes: on salads, in tacos, or encrusted with a high-quality breading and baked. Tilapia is a seafood everyone can enjoy, and enjoy in their own way. One of the quickest cooking methods is also one of the easiest. Pan-searing (or pan-frying) tilapia takes so little time and effort, you can justify doing it for almost any meal. Here’s how to pan fry tilapia!
Start with High-Quality Tilapia Fillets
We recommend starting with frozen tilapia. Maybe you know, maybe you don’t – but it bears repeating – frozen seafood is fresher seafood. Products you find at supermarket seafood counters have all be previously frozen. Thus, their shelf-life once in hand is very, very short. A good rule of thumb when choosing tilapia is to always seek out fillets that were responsibly sourced and frozen within hours of harvest. You’ll know a quality (and safe) tilapia fillet by its firm, bright white surface flesh. DO NOT eat if you see pink or brown spotting, or if your fillets emit a particularly fishy or ammonia-like odor. In short, choose frozen tilapia, as it’s great to have on hand for a quick lean mean, and it will be day-of-catch fresh whenever you decide to prepare it.
Thaw (or Don’t) Your Tilapia Fillets
No one likes a limp, spongey tilapia fillet – no one. Luckily, one of tilapia’s most cherished qualities is its low water and fat content. Not only does this quality give tilapia an edge among dieters and those who like to keep their menu as nutritious as possible, it also makes tilapia difficult to oversaturate while pan-searing. This means you can pan-sear a frozen tilapia fillet as simply as you would a thawed one. As such, pan-seared tilapia fillets are a perfect protein when you’re in a pinch. Prepping your fillets to taste before you pan-sear them will take a little time, but if you opt to go frozen, you’ll save yourself a good 10-15 minutes (submerge your fillets in cool water for quick results) of thaw time.
Pan-Sear Your Tilapia Like This
Because of ease and caramelization, pan-searing is a fantastic complement to tilapia. A tablespoon of oil and a skillet is all you need, along with quality tilapia fillets and a decent stovetop, of course. Season your tilapia fillets to your liking, then sear them on for about 3-4 minutes per side, or until the fillet is firm and opaque throughout. If it starts to flake, you know you’ve overcooked it. The result is a fillet boasting a slightly crispy crust with a hint of caramel that adds a layer of pleasant sweetness to the tilapia’s naturally mild, delicate taste. Try it with these easy tilapia recipes