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Dec 26, 2010 11:14 AM

Tilapia- Why?

I am confused about the popularity of tilapia. I would never order it out or buy it in a store. To me it seems better suited to an aquarium or a hobby pond. Don't get me wrong, I do eat farm raised salmon, but buying farm raised, previously frozen tilapia seems odd. I feel the same way about trout and carp unless the pond was in my own yard. I am sure it is quite palatable but the esthetic seems wrong. Anyone care to shed a little light?

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    1. re: porker

      Yes, its cheap. And bland....so people who don't care that much for fish are perfectly happy to have it. I do not find it palatable. Aside from not caring much for the flavor of fresh water fish, I find that tilapia has a bitter edge to it. The texture is OK...at least for fresh tilapia.

      1. re: EricMM

        Yeah, bland as well. My brother really likes tilapia, but he hates fish...
        So it appeals to non-fish eaters.

        1. re: EricMM

          The chicken breast of fish. A blank canvas

          1. re: scubadoo97

            Right on point scubadoo. It's a blank canvas protein which means the culinary artist has the opportunity to create new and exciting fish dishes. Because it can be baked, fried, grilled, (I've even steamed it) it's as versatile as Halibut. Perhaps not as tasty, but certainly nearly as versatile. Our family finds it to be quite similar to flounder or orange roughy. It's a good foundation for experimentation with Indian or Mexican spices. a Chinese plum sauce or oyster sauce with chopped scallions. IMO, freshness is the key.

            1. re: todao

              I agree. It accepts other flavours very well. I use it particularly in curries and fish tacos.


              1. re: todao

                Agreed on the similarity to flounder. My mom started using tilapia as a flounder substitute for fried fish sometime in the mid-late '90s. If fresh, local flounder is available, that is still the first choice, but tilapia is a reasonable substitute.

        2. I don't get it either. Bland, blah, weird texture.

          3 Replies
          1. re: magiesmom

            Based on your descriptions, I'd swear I was reading the rants about tofu. Talapia = pesca tofu?

            1. re: bulavinaka

              actually, that's a terrific comparison - it even goes beyond the taste & texture. don't forget the concerns over GM soybeans in tofu...i'd say that's a good parallel to the issues regarding hormones & farming with tilapia.

          2. I buy fresh tilapia for my husband. It's not super strong, it takes well to other flavors, it's inexpensive, it's always available, and it's easy to prepare. I'm probably not the best person to comment b/c I HATE fish, but the smell of tilapia cooking doesn't bother me. I refuse to cook salmon in the house because of the smell.

            1. Funny, those used to be pretty much my sentiments, exactly. Then one night I wanted just some random 'white' fish, the tilapia was cheap, and I bought it, not expecting a hell of a lot.

              Well, maybe it's my magical cooking skills (not), but I pan-fried it until nicely browned but not falling apart yet, made a little beurre blanc with some white wine, and it was really, really nice.

              Obviously, it's not a strong-flavored, super interesting fish. But I thought for the money that was a really tasty dish, and I can imagine using it for Thai curries or other dishes where the flavor of the fish doesn't have to be prominent. Since it isn't. Bitter? Not to me.

              1. I eat it because I generally eat large quantities of protein every day and you can get tilapia for $2.70 a pound. To make it palatable I usually make a fish stew with lots of curry spice. If I can get cheap bay scallops I throw them into the stew.

                My favorite fish is fresh grouper but that costs an arm and a leg.