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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.

                1. With a good Veracruz sauce, one could barely notice whether the fish underneath is a tilapia or a mangrove snapper.

                  9 Replies
                  1. re: Veggo

                    +1. Or head to the other coast - mojarra frita is one of my favorite dishes in places run by folks from Sinaloa or Nayarit.

                    1. re: alanbarnes

                      Not familiar with a Veracruz sauce?

                        1. re: Mother of four

                          Once again....Tilapia is farm raised and now for the scary part I was in Sam's and they had a freezer case full of whole and tilapia and filets....All from CHINA! Just think what this bottom feeder is feasting on in the tepid polluted ponds in Asia! Tilapia, shrimp, crabs, snails in my opinion, are not worth eating if they are farm raised and from Asia, unless you like sewage in your protein.

                          1. re: ospreycove

                            The sewage is the best part! It gives it that certain je ne sais quoi...

                            1. re: linguafood

                              sewage, if done right, is mmmm mmmm good

                            2. re: ospreycove

                              Tilapia aren't bottom feeders. Still, the fish farms in China and Taiwan are managed in an unsustainable manner, and the Monterey Bay Seafood Watch puts frozen tilapia imported from Asia in the "AVOID" category. My local mariscos places use fresh tilapia, which generally come from the Americas.

                              1. re: ospreycove

                                Just to let you know most of these farms are hand feeding the fish in ponds and the fish feed off the top not the bottom. The use of fresh water is used in the ponds.

                        2. I've read your post twice and don't understand what's "odd" about it? Could you elaborate please.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: c oliver

                            That bitter taste that was referred to is what a friend and I call "pencil shavings" -- honestly...I've never eaten pencil shavings, but I think this is what they'd taste like!!!

                            1. re: c oliver

                              I think Ospreycove sums it up pretty well. Tilapia is an African freshwater species that is being overproduce and being marketed everywhere as a healthy choice for our tables. Their popularity is a result more of advertising and economics than an actually being a savory and sought after dish.

                              1. i understand the premise behind buying it because it's cheap, but at this point i honestly wouldn't eat tilapia even if someone gave it to me for free. most of the farm-raised tilapia in this country comes from China, some of it is raised on GMO corn and soy, and even the ones that feed on algae take on a muddy unpleasant taste because of the algae species they eat (and perhaps also because of their tendency to consume their own feces). it may not taste "fishy" but it's hardly mild to me.

                                and anyone who eats it for health reasons might want to re-think that angle. the fatty acid ratio in tilapia is highly undesirable - 11:1 omega-6 to omega-3 - and can incite potentially dangerous inflammation in susceptible individuals.

                                no thanks.

                                24 Replies
                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                  +1...AMEN, sistah! There are SO many better choices out there...thank ye, GHG!

                                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                    If you live in NYC, or any other city with a large Asian population, tilapia can be bought live...and originates from Florida or other areas down south. That said, I have nothing further positive to say about tilapia....you've said it all.

                                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                      Aí caramba. Oh well. Not much of a loss. Back to the other white fish...

                                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                        I also wouldn't eat it. I don't eat farm raised fish unless certified organic and I am sure not eating fish from China.

                                        1. re: smartie

                                          The tilapia at the local Wegmans is farmed in Ecuador, sustainably (according to Wegmans). Any thoughts?

                                          1. re: linguafood

                                            It's considered a "Good Alternative" by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch.


                                            1. re: alanbarnes

                                              Whew. That's good to know. They overall claim to be selling sustainable seafood, so it's nice to hear it's not false advertising.

                                            2. re: linguafood

                                              my fears of farmed fish is the added chemicals - does sustainable mean without chemicals?

                                              1. re: smartie

                                                "Sustainable" means nothing more than the ability to reproduce at a constant level.

                                                1. re: Veggo

                                                  "Sustainable" means nothing more than the ability to reproduce at a constant level.

                                                  And for alot of people that means chemicals, and lots of them.

                                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                                    "And for alot of people that means chemicals, and lots of them."
                                                    like the testosterone the tilapia farmers add to the fish feed.

                                                  2. re: Veggo

                                                    Well, no. Sustainability requires that the number of harvested animals doesn't exceed the ability of the population to replace those individuals. But when you're talking about farming, it also means that the impact on the environment doesn't have long-term adverse consequences.

                                                    1. re: alanbarnes

                                                      But when you're talking about farming, it also means that the impact on the environment doesn't have long-term adverse consequences.
                                                      which it unfortunately does when farmed fish escape and mix with the wild population.

                                                      1. re: alanbarnes

                                                        Alan, in the interest of brevity I tried to express sustainability in 13 words rather than your 19, without losing the message in the medium. As for environmental impact, this is precisely where science and politics collide, and science is out- arm wrestled every time.

                                                        1. re: Veggo

                                                          a. Brevity is overrated.
                                                          b. Science can never hold a candle to hysteria.

                                                          1. re: alanbarnes

                                                            Most hysteria is irrational behavior concerning events that never occur. Pertaining to the asian carp proliferation, I dread the day when you hear "I told you so" when the first egg-carrying one reaches Lake Michigan. Home at last.

                                                      2. re: Veggo

                                                        correct which is why I questioned the chemical use. One assumes (gosh don't I sound English) that these sustainable tilapia farms in Ecuador use chemicals. And yes I know all kinds of farming uses anti biotics, fertilizers and so on but I understand that the concentrations in fish are much higher.

                                                        1. re: ospreycove

                                                          A major concern with tilapia farms in Africa is that the shallow warm ponds are breeding grounds for malaria-carrying mosquitos.
                                                          I have a lake full of tilapia in my back yard in Florida - from my hammock I enjoy watching the blue herons choke them down, and the ospreys dive-bomb for them in the afternoon.

                                                  3. re: smartie

                                                    Watch Mike Rowe as he's in this "toilet" with three hundred thousand "poo" eating fish ... and yes those fish just happen to be the lovely and aromatic Tilapia.

                                                    Poopy waters being filtered --> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qGoR4d...

                                                    1. re: Cheese Boy

                                                      If you're not going to consume any animal that eats fecal matter, you'll definitely want to avoid chicken, too. There's nothing they like better than cow patties. And have you ever heard the expression "happy as a pig in shit"? Probably better skip the pork, too.

                                                      And then there's vegetables. Mushrooms are grown on wheat straw and horse manure. And the most common fertilizer for those organic tomatoes? Well, you know...

                                                      The problem with Asian tilapia isn't what they eat, it's the fact that aquaculture in China is largely unregulated. And poorly managed tilapia farms use too much wild fish protein, destroy habitat and introduce invasive species, and pollute local waters with their effluent.

                                                      That's not to say that all Chinese tilapia is raised unsustainably. The Monterey Bay Aquarium has studied the methods used at Elite Aquaculture Ltd. in Guangxi Province and found that fish raised there is a "Good Alternative."

                                                      1. re: alanbarnes

                                                        I'm not squeamish when it comes to eating. Tilapia doesn't appeal to me though for several reasons, the topmost one being that the fish smells like it's been stored in my toilets water tank. I just don't like it and I avoid it.

                                                        BTW, let's not forget that those cow patties you mentioned in your reply are ALSO collected and reintroduced into the feed of cattle as well.

                                                        1. re: Cheese Boy

                                                          Regarding beef, I try to buy grass feed and local, not always easy. Read this, applies to all animal protein. yikes.


                                                          1. re: CCSPRINGS

                                                            Folks! Let's stay on topic. As far as Tilapia I find that you can mask the disagreeable odor when just prior to service, appply a healthy dollop of Cheese Whiz. Served as a sandwich on white bread it is quite tasty!

                                                          2. re: Cheese Boy

                                                            I've got a pretty damn sensitive nose (more curse than blessing, believe you me), and have never noticed the tilapia smelling like a toilet water tank. But maybe your toilet water tank smells of water, and fish.

                                                            Or maybe I'm just crazy lucky that the tilapia we get here is from Ecuador, and is presumably raised under better conditions than in Asia.

                                                  4. It makes fair Catfish bait........

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. Back when it was farmed raised in South America (its native home) and in the US I ate Tilapia, and I like just about every variety fish known to mankind. A friend who built and ran a tilpia farm in Tennesee closed it last year. He couldn't compete with low priced tilapia from China where most of it is now raised. Catfish as well. I used to like both, but since the fish started coming from China, the quality of both has dropped to the nearly inedible. Occasionally I still see Tilapia from Ecuador and that is much better, but still not as good as it used to be.

                                                      3 Replies
                                                      1. re: jimn01

                                                        Global stats are that wild-caught fish provide 53% of the world's demand, a figure that topped out 4 years ago, and farmed fish provide the remaining 47%, of which 60% is from China.
                                                        A friend of mine has an enormous rice and tilapia project underway in the Yala Basin in Kenya, operating under very transparent conditions and on a scale to provide most domestic needs plus export surplus, but it is proving to be a very difficult undertaking. Science and environmental concerns are challenging, but fold in wars, droughts, corruption, and lack of transportation infrastructure and energy supplies and it becomes daunting. Fish farming on the African continent is practically nil but a Promethean effort marches on.

                                                        1. re: Veggo

                                                          Traveling in Central America, I saw some tilapia farming project in Omoa, Honduras, off the Northern Coast. Some of these areas have a shortage of proteins in their diets, so the farms make sense for local consumption.


                                                          1. re: nychilanga

                                                            For a local food source I agree completely.

                                                      2. I am with you on never buying it in a restaurant, because you could make a lb of it for what you'd be charged for one filet, but to me it has some good qualities. One it is a decent fish for a fry. Sure it's bland compared to cod or flounder, but if you're adding lemon and tartar sauce it works. It also is a good segway into fish for the non-fish eater (especially children). Some chopped macadamia nuts and they are eating a healthy piece of fish that tastes like candy! Another reason it is popular is because it is accessible. As a single guy who doesn't want to slave over a stove, there is something nice about something as simple as some lemon, wine, butter and capers and two tilapia filets. 5-10 minutes and I'm eating.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: jhopp217

                                                          Yep. Works well for a couple, too, that doesn't want to slave over the stove for hours.

                                                          And now that I got my alanbarnes / Monterey Bay aquarium halo back on - ain't nuttin holding me back. Besides - who couldn't use a tad bit of testosterone '-)

                                                        2. surprised the word "basa" didn't make it into this thread...

                                                          2 Replies
                                                          1. re: porker

                                                            Basa? Is that like Swai? Otherwise known as Asian catfish and locally disguised by restaurants as haddock in all you can eat fish frys? It is raised in the rivers of Vietnam and is cheaper than domestic catfish. Gotta love the fancy names this fish has been given.

                                                            1. re: wildrnss

                                                              Basa is a name for farmed Catfish generally from Vietnam -the reason it's called that is a long story about the political power of US Catfish farmers-themselves no cuddly caretakers of the environment.

                                                              In the USA the farmed Catfish tail wags the regulatory dog.

                                                              FWIW-Tilapia is vile stuff and I agree about the Denny's comment.

                                                          2. In my kitchen, Tilapia is a blank canvas protein that offers an 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.

                                                            2 Replies
                                                            1. re: todao

                                                              Freshness is very difficult to find in imported frozen Tilapia; in your case stick to U.S. farm raised or, as Veggo stated check out the ponds and ditches in Florida!!
                                                              As far as Orange Roughy, a member of the Slime Head Family, no joke, It has been severely overfished in the last 15 years; approaching the stage of population crash, from which it will not recover.

                                                              1. re: ospreycove

                                                                I ate Orange Roughy once about 15 years ago. Never again. I still do not eat Sword Fish even though I have been told populations are healthy. There should be a world wide ban on harvesting Bluefin but that will never occur.

                                                            2. Like farmed catfish, it is a good fish for people who hate fish but want to eat it for health reasons. It doesn't taste fishy. Personally I prefer the catfish---the filet never has bones and there are no disgusting scales. A sweet fish, it lends itself well to a tangy sauce like sweet-and-sour pineapple. Very easy to oven-fry---just roll it in crumbs and bake at 425* to get a crunchy outside. To all of us who were given cod liver oil as children and threw it up, farewell forever to fishy-tasting fish.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. Well Iguess you people can call me crazy because I like Tilapia. In fact I made some last night that was purchased fresh form my butcher. Good stuff. But then i like all fish so I guess maybe I am weird.

                                                                3 Replies
                                                                  1. re: linguafood

                                                                    Yeah it is a meat market that sells fresh meat and seafood. They get Salmon, catfish, trout, tuna as well as shrimps and sea scallops. They make many different types of sausages and hot dogs as well the standard beef, chicken and pork stuff as well. The only negative is that I can't figure out where to put the side of beef I want to buy from them lol.

                                                                1. I personally hate frozen fish, I don't think i could waste my money on it because they just don't cook up right - meaning all the fish still left on my dinner plate at the end of the night. Secondly tilapia is one putrid fish IMHO... I think the only way i could eat it is if it were in a ton of curry to mask its wierd taste. To me its like the cardboard of fish... just so blah. But maybe I'm just imagining it, I tried to fry it, and add a ton of tartar sauce... and tossed it out... even the cat would only take a bite or 2 out of mine(he is spoiles and only goes for mackrel, and his kibble). But no worries, im sure if i let the dog have them the back yard, i could get rid of the rest of the filets i have going to waste in my freezer.

                                                                  10 Replies
                                                                  1. re: BedazzledLV

                                                                    "60 Minutes had a special segment on Tilapia coming in from China. They showed how Tilapia is raised and I knew then that I had eaten my LAST Tilapia. The water is actually filthy sewage and reeking with slime and debris. Now I know why Tilapia is on the "AVOID" list.

                                                                    No thanks.

                                                                    1. re: The Drama Queen

                                                                      Well, given your screen name I suppose that such a reaction is to be expected, but...

                                                                      Tilapia that's raised in the US isn't on the "avoid" list. Matter of fact, it's a "best choice." The fish are raised sustainably in conditions that are far less objectionable to those of delicate sensibilities. Even Central and South American tilapia is a "good alternative." Aquaculture in Brazil, Costa Rica, Honduras, and Ecuador is pretty well managed.

                                                                      Now whether you like the flavor of tilapia is a whole 'nother question. But if you are concerned about how they're raised, just buy fish from the Americas and you're good to go.

                                                                      1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                        Thanks, ab. Good info. Heading to Brazil in a couple of weeks. Will have to look up the word for tilapia :)

                                                                        1. re: c oliver

                                                                          Will have to look up the word for tilapia :)
                                                                          it's tilapia ;)

                                                                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                            In Portuguese? Cool. There's a great fish market near our apt. Will check it out.

                                                                        2. re: alanbarnes

                                                                          alanbarnes, I find your remark about my screen name insulting. I was NOT referring to tilapia raised in this country, I was talking about the frozen product that we get from CHINA. Unless you saw the 60 Minutes segment I was referring to then you haven't a clue as to how these fish are farmed. I don't think that seeing fish that I've been eating raised in sewage would deserve any less reaction than disgust.

                                                                          1. re: The Drama Queen

                                                                            but the point ab made was that there are farm-raised tilapia from OTHER countries that are not raised in sewage. no need for drama at all, really '-)

                                                                            1. re: The Drama Queen

                                                                              >>"I was NOT referring to tilapia raised in this country"<<

                                                                              Must be a problem with my monitor. It claims you said "I had eaten my LAST tilapia," which you said "is on the 'AVOID' list." Your qualifiers limiting those comments to fish farmed in Asia aren't showing up.

                                                                              As far as the screen name, your use of capitalization is intended to be dramatic, no? Sweeping generalizations are consistent with that, too. I assumed that you wouldn't choose such a handle if you didn't have a sense of humor about it. Sorry if I offended.

                                                                              1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                Okay, this has been beaten to death so I'll just say that, yes I have a great sense of humor, that's why the screen name. And the caps are because - well because it's a name. As for my remark about the "last" piece of tliapia, let me give you this to think about: "A cat sits on a hot stove once, he'll never sit on a hot stove again. But he won't sit on a cold one either." Now you can figure it out.
                                                                                Have a great day alanbarnes, I know we'll cross paths again and one thing is for sure; you won't forget me. ;-)

                                                                                1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                  Man that chick's a total drama queen.

                                                                        3. Gained popularity due to being cheap. Not that cheap anymore but people like it because it absorbs flavor very easily, and it has a really luxurious sounding name, making them feel good about themselves for ordering it.

                                                                          Not that it has a cool name, but I wouldn't be surprised to see Whiting be the next sort of tilapia, in terms of sales.

                                                                          5 Replies
                                                                          1. re: jrock645

                                                                            Whiting stocks are way down if I am not mistaken. Tilapia abundance is due to its ability to be farmed raised cheaply.

                                                                            Deep fried whiting is tasty!

                                                                            1. re: CCSPRINGS

                                                                              Whole whiting used to be way cheap, but since somebody decided to fillet those suckers and cook em up filet o fish style, they suddenly became pretty expensive.

                                                                              We have Asian store owners here who serve up these deep fried whiting fillets in sandwiches for three dollars each. Real nice taste though with tartar and hot sauce.

                                                                            2. re: jrock645

                                                                              'Tilapia' sounds luxurious? I always thought it sounded cheap - it makes me think of 'dilapidated'. That's not based on some sort of foodie prejudice, it's just the way it sounds to me.

                                                                              I have tried and tried to like fish and have tasted many varieties prepared numerous ways with no success. It wasn't until I tasted a simple piece of baked tilapia that I regained hope that I one day may learn to eat fish without gagging! I asked the cook what type of fish it was - "Tilapia", came the reply. ('Hmm, funny name, sounds like dilapidated'...) Followed by google search which quickly soured my newfound hope, full of stories on sewage-eating farm-raised fish from China, and I have yet to purchase the fish myself. I thought all hope was lost until the clarifications posted on this thread.

                                                                              Adequately regulated farm-raised fish is better than no fish at all in a balanced diet, no?

                                                                              1. re: tokyo

                                                                                Good for you for keeping an open mind. And, yes, you gotta start somewhere. And maybe you'll never like a whole lot of different fish(es) but that's fine also. Bob and I may be the only Left Coast people who like very little salmon.

                                                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                                                  Thanks for the vote of confidence, c oliver. I was able to find South American farm raised Tilapia nearby and purchased a small fillet, along with a small piece of flounder. Both were $10.99/lb., individually frozen on site. Pretty high for Tilapia, but it's the best I can do locally. I have yet to eat them! :)

                                                                            3. I couldn't believe how popular Tilapia is here on the mainland when I moved her 4 years ago. Mostly everyone in Hawaii will scoff at the sight of it. It's considered the rubbish/garbage fish of the rivers because of it eating anything that falls into the water. I remember a fish farm we visited in China during a class visit for high school biology class and what they would feed the Tilapia, DOG FOOD! I was in shock, they explained because it was nutritional, cheap, and got the fish fat in a small amount of time. But coming back to Hawaii a few years ago I remember going to a really expensive restaurant ( I won't name names) that named their Talapia dish as "panfish" (another name for talapia). But no matter how you name it, its always going to be the rubbish (mud and dog food eating) fish that I grew up with. But no disrespect to those that enjoy it!

                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                              1. re: bobbykauaiboy

                                                                                I have the same memories from my summers spent there in my childhood. We'd throw anything that was nitrogen-based in the local rivers and ditches and we'd create an instant talapia boil. No one would ever consider eating them - kapu to the locals.

                                                                                1. re: bobbykauaiboy

                                                                                  Dog food is exactly what we fed the tilapia in the research lab at NYU, back in my grad school days.

                                                                                2. The local Costco is now carrying 5 pound bags of fillets for $14.90, supposedly raised without anti-biotics etc.

                                                                                  1. Cheap.
                                                                                    Horrible acquaculture practices.
                                                                                    Often tastes muddy. You know the fish is nasty when you can still taste mud and it is floating in a pool of technicolor Korean hot sauce.

                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: JudiAU

                                                                                      Yet people love the earthy taste of catfish. Hmmmm.


                                                                                      1. re: Davwud

                                                                                        Good catfish doesn't taste particularly muddy.

                                                                                    2. I agree with all the posts. I like to grill it. It grills up dry. Baked, it doesn't fall apart. You can saute it.

                                                                                      And the price is right. It is a good source of cheap protein. I wouldn't waste super ingredients or amazing technique on it. Grill it and make a sandwich.

                                                                                      1. Yes it's affordable, but as others have mentioned Tilapia is a great fish to cook with.

                                                                                        Poach Talapia in a court-bouillon (flavored poaching liquid), and serve on basmati rice (Elephant 817 brand is widely available), drizzle with melted lemon butter, and garnish with parsley or cilantro. Easy, fast and delicious. Perfect work night dinner.

                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                        1. re: PoppiYYZ

                                                                                          Here's an easy one too.

                                                                                          I keep pickled onions on hand so that helps me but take some tilapia and season with taco seasoning, chipotle seasoning or whatever you like basically. Wrap and toss in the oven. While it cooks make some guacamole. Chop some green onion (which I usually have on hand). Serve on a corn tortilla (mine are home made) and you have what you see below.


                                                                                        2. As far as taste goes, it's a pathetic excuse for a fish, and it seems it isn't particularly healthy after all:


                                                                                          Article says you don't get much of the healthy Omega-3 oil if you feed the fish soy beans and corn. You might as well chug canola oil. Too bad, guess I'll need to reconsider farm raised catfish (but at least catfish tastes like fish).

                                                                                          Quoting the article:

                                                                                          “It may look like fish *and taste like fish* (my emphasis) but does not have the benefits — it may be detrimental,” said Dr. Floyd Chilton, a professor of physiology and pharmacology at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center who specializes in fish lipids.

                                                                                          Clearly, Dr. Chilton has not actually tasted tilapia.

                                                                                          17 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: Zeldog

                                                                                            There is always an "expert" who will tell you something "may" be bad for you. Usually the said expert is conduction research in the field and looking for further funding...

                                                                                            1. re: PoppiYYZ

                                                                                              My bottom line on Tilapia is; it is a tasteless, uninteresting, farmed in dubious conditions, "filler" fish. It is fine' I guess, for the mass feeding companies that supply the numerous buffets and lower price food retailers/restaurants that batter/coat/season the filets beyond anything resembling a fine flavorful piece of fish. Why settle for farmed Tilapia, when with a little effort one can find excellent wild fishes, no matter where one lives.

                                                                                              1. re: ospreycove

                                                                                                "Why settle for farmed Tilapia" - Well stated! Why bother?

                                                                                                1. re: ospreycove

                                                                                                  I would say price point is a draw for the average consumer as well as the mild taste for those that are not really keen on fish in the first place. My local grocery sell tilapia for around $6-7/lb. I can get cod and other fish for just a couple dollars more so the price point is not a big draw for me. I purchased tilapia recently to make fish tacos and gefilte fish. Again blank canvas. I had been years since I last purchased it and will most likely not buy it much in the future. I do like a little fish taste and texture in my fish.

                                                                                                  1. re: ospreycove

                                                                                                    A little effort. It might be helpful to define that term. For me that involves 100+ miles and a 2 hour roundtrip drive to Whole Foods (which has its own thread about some CHs claiming their fish "sucks") or Costco. We make the drive about once a week and if I'm in the mood for fish that day or the following, then yes, I'll buy it. I guess it's open for discussion whether it's "excellent." And I'm sure there's a lot of the US and the world who have the same situation I do - or worse.

                                                                                                    1. re: ospreycove

                                                                                                      >>"with a little effort one can find excellent wild fishes, no matter where one lives."<<

                                                                                                      Um, no. Excellent wild fish may be easy to come by in some places, but it's far from ubiquitous. Even mediocre wild fish is largely unavailable in many places. Add sustainability to excellence as a criterion and that "little effort" can become pretty daunting.

                                                                                                      1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                        In that case, I would not eat fish if Tilapia was my only choice. I moved to a Coastal area for many reasons; fishing for my own great fresh seafood being one of them.

                                                                                                        1. re: ospreycove

                                                                                                          I fish, too, and am no great fan of tilapia. But not everybody can go out and catch their own seafood, and I respect the decisions those people make when deciding what fish to buy.

                                                                                                          But we all make better decisions when they're based on information that's complete and correct. Overgeneralizations and incorrect statements such as those you've made on this thread are not helpful.

                                                                                                          1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                            alanbarnes, I posted this info from the NYT and it went "POOF" I will list it again; as it gives insight into the problems with Tilapia, as the fish gains in production and popularity.
                                                                                                            It pinpoints problems with nutritional values of this fish, lowest in Omega-3, environmental damage to natural freshwater lakes, etc. and the above are what the "Certified Growers", effects not to mention the Chinese unregulated programs.

                                                                                                            1. re: ospreycove

                                                                                                              That article (which has already been linked in this thread) contains facts that are useful in deciding whether to eat tilapia. And yes, there are some legitimate concerns with the way the fish are raised, especially in Asia. So let's address those concerns instead of clouding the issue with misinformation.

                                                                                                              1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                                I found the topic of environmental damage, discussed in the New York Times article, to natural lakes quite alarming.

                                                                                                              2. re: ospreycove

                                                                                                                But is it still healthier to eat fish that is low in OM3 than to eat beef, pork or chicken? Assuming it wasn't raised in sewage.

                                                                                                                1. re: scubadoo97

                                                                                                                  scuba, there is some recent evidence that grass raised and finished beef has a rather good level of omega-3 vs. the fats that occur when grain is used to fatten steers.

                                                                                                                  1. re: ospreycove

                                                                                                                    Grass fed beef is not commonly found where I live. No Whole Foods in my immediate area. Regular grocery stores only sell grain feed.

                                                                                                                    But from what I've read grass fed beef, chicken, pork, lamb and veal are still higher in total fat than Tilapia. Not a champion of Tilapia, just playing devils advocate.

                                                                                                                    I live in the Tampa Bay area where better seafood is readily available and you can catch it yourself if you have the time, equipment and knowledge and I should add fishing license since they now need to have a license to fish from shore <roll eyes>. But for the average Joe or Jane at the local grocery store,Tilapia still is a cheaper choice in fish than our local or imported fish.

                                                                                                                    1. re: scubadoo97

                                                                                                                      scuba, a lot of the Tilapia available is imported from China.

                                                                                                                      1. re: ospreycove

                                                                                                                        a lot but not all. The Tilapia at our local Publix is not and is sold between 6-7 dollars/lb. I know you can get Tilapia at cheaper prices that does come from China. Me personally, I would not eat fish from China

                                                                                                                        1. re: scubadoo97

                                                                                                                          We've split off some of the where-can-I-buy Tilapia in Florida to that board, here http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7829... . It was off-topic for this board.

                                                                                                  2. Just want to express my appreciation for this thread. Yesterday we were in Safeway and they had a few packages of tilapia for 50% off. I scrutinized the label and saw "farm raised in Ecuador." Bought a package. Cooked four very nice filets last night. Son of a gun, they weren't flavorless in the least. A mild, tasting white fish but plenty of fish flavor. Ate two last night and used the other two for "filet o' fish" sandwiches for lunch today. Those FOUR filets cost $3.60, so $1.80 per meal for two people. I'll keep eating it.

                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                      We fried some last night. The neighbor walked by the open kitchen door, made her way in and pronounced it the best fish she had ever eaten. It was good although it is much milder in flavor than other fish I prefer. I usually dust it liberally with blackening seasoning and fry it in some butter in a cast iron pan. Squeeze a little lime over the finished product and serve with some steamed vegetable or rice pilaf.

                                                                                                      1. re: grumpy84

                                                                                                        Agreed. I dipped in egg, then in panko, fried in butter/oo, squeezed lemon juice over.

                                                                                                    2. I like it, and so long as mine is fresh, not raised in China, and well-cooked, what's wrong with it? You can make anything take magnificent with a little skill, patience, and love.

                                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: daydream

                                                                                                        An interesting addition; last week I was talking to a friend of mine who does landscaping in our area. He is an avid fisherman too, is also quite accomplished with a cast net. He mentioned that in a pond, man-made retention ponds are common in Florida, he cast his 8' net into the pond and in one haul got 70 Tilapia(!!!); it was so heavy he said he needed help pulling it out. The Tilapia averaged about 10" each. Since Tilapia are difficult to catch with a hook, netting is the best way to catch them. He said he cooked, fried, only 4 of them whole, the rest never made it home as he supplied his buds with fresh fish that day!!
                                                                                                        Since Tilapia is an invasive species in Fl. there is no size limit nor daily bag limit; and interesting that you may not possess tilapia alive, they must be dead. This is a feeble effort to prevent the spread of this exotic non-native fish.

                                                                                                        1. re: ospreycove

                                                                                                          Yes drainage retention ponds filled with Tilapia are everywhere in Florida. There are times of the year when they school up at the surface and it would be easy to catch several hundred pounds from the average pond.

                                                                                                          I've never been tempted because the weed killer and insect killer they spray on the lawns and outside the homes drain into the ponds.

                                                                                                          1. re: redfish62

                                                                                                            red.This pond is just off a golf course YEECH!....That is why I do not eat Tilapia farmed or "wild"!!.....LOL

                                                                                                            I did not know about the schooling habit of Tilapia, thsnks for the info.

                                                                                                        2. re: daydream

                                                                                                          Here in the Southeast, I use tilapia appearing on a restaurant menu as a litmus test that they're sourcing from Sysco or US Foods and not locally. Your local fisherman is bringing in grouper, scamp, snapper, flounder, triggerfish, red drum, etc. off his boat, not tilapia. If you still find a way to get tilapia on your menu, then you're using a commercial distributor and I'm not going to patronize your business.