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Mar 13, 2012 05:00 AM

Substitute for Tilapia

I live in rural Australia, so the only wild fish I have access to (vs. the farmed basa and whiting at the store) is mostly reef fish since the great barrier reef is only 3 hours away. A lot of the American recipes I'd like to try have Tilapia in them though (which I've never seen here,) so I wondered if something like Barramundi, Grunter or Red Throat Emporer would be good substitutes as they're my fave fish and are easy to come by.

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  1. Any mild, white fleshed fish could be substituted for tilapia. Its generally very thin, by the way. Personally, I'm not a huge fan, as it often tatses "muddy" to me.

    2 Replies
    1. re: carolinadawg

      me too. I don't get the appeal.
      You can sub any white fish.

      1. re: magiesmom

        I'd echo both carolina and magies. although I don't get a 'muddy' taste I just get a bland's really just a cheap default fish (for me anyway). not bad but not something I'd seek out with anticipation. I'd rather have cod, but I understand Atlantic cod is on the over-fished list.

        odd you don't see it as much of what we get here in the US is farm-raised in Asia. maybe bless your luck you're surrounded by fertile seas and save your pity for us. </envy>

    2. I think Barramundi would work, if it is the same Barramundi I can get at my grocer. Tilapia is, as CD said, a thin white fleshed fish, so it is possible that cooking times might be different if the Barramundi is a bit thicker. Tilapia used to be a better quality, I think. I don't like it now. But it grills up firm without drying out, unless over cooked, and without falling apart. Just a few years ago I would have said it (tilapia) makes lovely sandwiches. At any rate, the Barramundi would make a fine sub in recipes.

      1. I like basa a bit more. It's a firmer fleshed fish. Both are basically tasteless so you can add pretty well any flavors you want.

        1. Meldubya,

          It's like you're asking if you could use sirloin instead of spam. Go with the reef fish. Tilapia is for people who don't like the taste of fish. Basa (also a fresh water fish) is pretty much the same as tilapia -- flaky, bland and dry, so use that if you really want to follow the recipe as closely as possible, but as Puffin3 says, "both are basically tasteless", and that's the bottom line. Tilapia is popular in the US because it is cheap and readily available even thousands of miles from an ocean, but any recipe will only be improved by using a mild, wild caught fish.

          1. I have eaten both tilapia and barramundi. I clearly prefer barramundi. They served it on an Air New Zealand flight from LA. Best airplane food ever. It was topped with a delicious tapenade.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Gail

              ok between you, Zeldog and Sue I gotta track down some barramundi and basa.

              Sue - (sorry to go OT for the OP but) where do you find these? an Asian market on Olive in STL? cause I've never seen it at the usual suspects.

              1. re: hill food

                Vietnamese basa fillets are common in the Asian markets I shop (e.g. HMart).