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Why should I buy tilapia?

Jeanne May 25, 2012 05:25 AM

Tilapia is in so many recipes now. And highlighted on cooking shows as the fish in their recipes!

As far as I know - all tilapia is farm raised. I used to buy it for a quick low fat meal. It tasted okay.

I then started thinking about it - I live in a coastal state. I can find some really good fish on the coast - not so much where I live mid-state without spending a good amount.

So - I want to hear the positives about tilapia! If there are some.

  1. tommy May 25, 2012 05:32 AM

    What positives do you find with tilapia?

    1. meatn3 May 25, 2012 08:10 AM

      It's relatively inexpensive, widely available and mild in flavor (appeals to those with a fear of fish). The wide availability makes it a good choice for TV recipes, many people are not familiar enough with fish to feel comfortable substituting varieties if a specified one is not available.

      If you like fish and live where you have fresh options then there are probably many more interesting choices.

      1. Njchicaa May 25, 2012 08:38 AM

        I stopped buying tilapia because it started to taste really muddy and dirty to me. Maybe it was always like that and I just didn't notice or maybe I just got a few bad batches. Whatever the reason, I don't buy/eat it any more

        3 Replies
        1. re: Njchicaa
          pinehurst May 25, 2012 08:54 AM

          I absolutely agree. I do not like the taste (tasteless to muddy) or the texture.

          1. re: Njchicaa
            raytamsgv May 25, 2012 01:24 PM

            I agree. I do not like the taste of tilapia at all.

            1. re: Njchicaa
              LMAshton Feb 25, 2013 03:55 PM

              We tried tilapia a couple of times because there were so many raves about it. We didn't like it at all, either.

            2. Uncle Bob May 25, 2012 09:10 AM

              Why should I buy tilapia?

              No taste...Funky texture.

              I"ve heard cats like it.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Uncle Bob
                bulavinaka May 25, 2012 10:15 PM

                >>I"ve heard cats like it.<<

                My first thoughts when I read the title of this post. My response would be, "because you love your cat."

                1. re: Uncle Bob
                  Isolda Jun 2, 2012 12:31 PM

                  Yes, they do. I have one super picky cat who likes shrimp, refried beans, arugula and....tilapia. He'll tolerate the cat food I serve, but he really wants the other stuff.

                2. g
                  gordeaux May 25, 2012 09:45 AM

                  I think you answered your own question when you used this phrase, "I then started thinking about it"

                  1. JoanN May 25, 2012 10:12 AM

                    I don’t buy tilapia here in the States, but in Guatemala, where I spend a couple of months a year, it’s a very important source of inexpensive protein for the local population. It’s also the fish they use to make mojarra frita, sort of a Guatemalan fish and chips without the chips. The photo below is from a roadside stand up in the mountains where many farmers have their own individual aquaculture ponds where they raise fish to feed their families and to sell, along with extra fruits and vegetables they’ve grown, at the local mercado. In Guatemala, the fish is practically never filleted. I’ve prepared it both fried and roasted and although mild, it can be quite tasty. I don’t think I’ve ever seen whole tilapia here; but then, I haven’t really looked, either.

                    1. Bacardi1 May 25, 2012 10:18 AM

                      I don't really think there are any real "postives" about Tilapia when there are SO many other options out there. Even folks who are fish-phobic can be gotten around by good old reputable U.S.-farmed catfish. Same (even better) mild flavor & firm yet flaky texture, & can be used in ANY recipe calling for Tilapia.

                      And unlike Tilapia, U.S.-farmed catfish is raised in an environmentally-sound & hygienic manner. Tilapia has yet to get any certifications for either practice. In fact, really ANY white fish filet can be used in a recipe calling for Tilapia - flounder, sole, haddock, cod, etc., etc.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Bacardi1
                        smaki May 26, 2012 09:49 AM

                        To OP, Bacardi1 is right. Tilapia has hit our market in recent years for greed not health. Is on the shelf and in the TV shows because it is inexpensive protein compared to other choices. It replaced catfish at my local fish shore sometime in the last few years when didn't notice. When they got rid of Catfish my store added Tilapia in the same spot catfish was - positive motivated by money not quality. US raised catfish has always tasted better to me after some time in the South in the late 80s and early 90s. Catfish has a less muddy flavor with better texture (and is more flaky) than Tilapia to me. While they can be substituted for each other in recipes - And there are all kinds of white fish protein options as said above. Even fish like bluegill, perch, red snapper, bass, crappie, could be substituted if can hook into for free (or buy cheap).

                        Personally less concerned about consuming Catfish or something produced in the US. Our heath standards are far from perfect, but still often better than elsewhere. The United States imported 81 percent of the seafood that is consumed here in about 2007 according to the NY Times link below (with catfish production going down my guess is that the foreign percentage is now even higher five years later). Much of the Talapia and now even the Catfish is produced in places like Asia where their health standards are not as safe. Why? To make more money. Companies and even governments are driven by money. Not taste. Not consumer health. This in an emerging problem in recent years with lots of details in the news if you look for it. Feel has not come to a head yet. The US Government has been concerned about imported seafood from China due to levels of carcinogens and antibiotics. Has issued warnings, while continues to allow sub-standard food products to be sold in US markets (yes US government and officials can be bribed to do the wrong things). Be careful what you put in your mouth. Not everything in the store or restaurant is good for you. westsidegal, below yesterday was right on when she shared this link: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/29/business/29fish-web.html?_r=2 and online searches will bring more recent info if in the mood to read it.

                        Another thread on CHOW recently talked about Catfish / Talapia alternatives with additional input and alternatives like Swai for you to consider at: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/848045

                      2. Gio May 25, 2012 10:23 AM

                        Whenever I want to find information about the best fish to buy and consume I first look at the Monterey Bay Seafood Watch reports and information charts to find the safest and most sustainable seafood that is fished or farmed.

                        Here's their page about tilapia...

                        1. l
                          lapositivista May 25, 2012 10:34 AM

                          Random tilapia positives that you will, most likely, not find helpful: 1) It's freaking delicious... *IF* you've had it caught and cooked fresh out of Lake Turkana. I first encountered tilapia while studying abroad in Kenya where it is quite popular. As I mentioned, I had fresh tilapia caught right from the lake but I also had several dishes prepared in Kenyan villages in the West that were equally delicious. When I got home, I was so excited to find it readily available here... needless to say I have not created the same experience here. (I'm not above it though... I do use it for the occasional fish taco or fillet. I much prefer it to catfish but that's just me. But if you have better, tastier fish readily available to you AND you can afford it...) 2) Apparently, tilapia eat mosquito larvae and some researchers are trying to use them to combat malaria. Um, yay?

                          1. l
                            lamlex May 25, 2012 10:44 AM

                            I am not sure that my tilapia experience is relevant, but... my best friend has a beach house on the Big Island of Hawaii with brackish water ponds filled with tilapia. Growing up, we fed those fish EVERYTHING and ANYTHING we could think of, which has ultimately led me to believe that they are completely dirty, disgusting fish.
                            Obviously, farm-raised tilapia aren't eating the creations of wily teenagers, but I have never been able to get over my experience with them. Seeing that others find the flavor muddy and dirty totally validates my disgust for this fish.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: lamlex
                              mpjmph May 25, 2012 07:05 PM

                              Many fish species will eat anything that floats past their face. So will chickens. And pigs. Tilapia raised in the US are actually a pretty good deal for fish farmers - they use tilapia to clean up after other fish species. Farmers get two fish harvests for the price of one, and save money/time on clean up.

                              1. re: lamlex
                                bulavinaka May 25, 2012 10:26 PM

                                Talapia are primarily herbivores, but like you, I remember spending summers in Hawaii with my cousins "feeding" talapia that lived in the flood control ditches and ponds. They would eat ANYTHING that roughly fell in the organic category. I remember my cousin telling me that the talapia would even eat dog poop. I didn't believe him. He picked some up with a leaf, threw it in the water, and the talapia swarmed on it. They are what they are - hopefully kids aren't allowed around talapia ponds today.

                              2. o
                                Ottojr May 25, 2012 10:49 AM

                                Tilapia is basically tasteless and needs to be really seasoned to appeal to the palate.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Ottojr
                                  Clams047 May 25, 2012 01:47 PM

                                  So it fits into the category of white rice & grits?

                                  Then again, so many kill flavor with ketchup that I question if the average person even cares about flavor (beyond sugar and salt).

                                2. d
                                  d8200 May 25, 2012 10:59 AM

                                  In the Northwest it's fairly easy to find halibut and lingcod, so I would readily eat those over tilapia any day. Of course, they cost 3-4 times as much, but it's money well spent to know that what I'm eating is fresh and came from clean waters rather than some garbage eating fish from a sketchy source. If the industry can turn people on to American wild caught shrimp, we can soon downgrade the ubiquitous Asian farm raised tiger prawns to the same status as tilapia. However, most people in the US use their wallet as a guide for purchasing seafood rather than ethics.

                                  1. b
                                    bitchincook May 25, 2012 03:10 PM

                                    My first few experiences with it were okay. It just didn't have a lot of flavor of its own. Then I took one bite of some tilapia that tasted like the sludge at the bottom of a sewage treatment plant. It made me queasy for hours. I've never touched it since, and after that experience, I avoid farmed fish altogether.

                                    1. westsidegal May 25, 2012 06:27 PM


                                      1. The Professor May 25, 2012 07:27 PM

                                        Definitely not a fan of Tilapia, even though a friend of mine was a pioneer and early proponent (more than 3 decades ago) of methods for farm raising tilapia to help teach poor and starving populations in 3rd world countries a means of providing an inexpensive source of protein; apparently Tilapia is _very_ easy to farm, reproduces rapidly, and even thrives in brackish water. Yum.

                                        Even putting that last little tidbit aside, I just find it to be bland and virtually flavorless.
                                        There are _so_ many better options available in the markets these days.

                                        7 Replies
                                        1. re: The Professor
                                          mpjmph May 26, 2012 05:04 AM

                                          Wait, why is thriving inbrackish water a bad thing? Shrimp, crab, flounder, oysters, mussels, and many other very popular fish thrive in brackish water. Brackish just means the water is saltier than fresh water, but not as salty as the ocean.

                                          1. re: mpjmph
                                            tommy May 26, 2012 05:19 AM

                                            It seems like since this is the fish that a few people were able to play with and feed as youngsters, and it's the fish that gets a bad rap (and since it's cheap and mild and widely available and affordable and popular, the snob factor can come into play), people think it's somehow the only animal they eat that eats crappy food.

                                            If I put that much thought into every animal that goes into my mouth I would probably be a vegetarian. And even then I'd be getting upset about the manure used to fertilize my organic heirloom tomatoes. "yuck, do you know what those tomatoes eat!?!?!?"

                                            1. re: tommy
                                              mpjmph May 26, 2012 05:49 AM

                                              That's the impression I get as well. If we stopped eating every animal that ate the waste of other animals.... Well, we wouldn't have many animals left to eat. Yes tilapia will eat (or try to eat) just about anything they see, but the same goes for shrimp, crab, catfish... Then there are the bivalves that are just sitting there filtering whatever particles drift their way.

                                              1. re: mpjmph
                                                tommy May 26, 2012 05:51 AM

                                                Lobsters, too, will happily dead animals floating around the bottom of the sea. But they're expensive and the perception is that lobsters are really special. So they get a pass.

                                                1. re: tommy
                                                  EWSflash Jun 1, 2012 07:35 PM

                                                  Thank you both for saying that. I guess some people think that tilapia should only eat fresh organic spinach and marshmallows

                                            2. re: mpjmph
                                              The Professor May 26, 2012 08:33 AM

                                              Thanks for clarifying "brackish". I had that part totally wrong.
                                              I guess I was absent the day that was covered. ;-)

                                              I'll still pass on the Tilapia though...objectively tried it several times, really _wanting_ to like it (especially given the usual cheap price); I tried it different ways, at home and eating out, and have finally given up on it.
                                              No problem though...it just means that there'll be more for everyone else.

                                              1. re: The Professor
                                                EWSflash Jun 1, 2012 07:36 PM

                                                I've had it be clean, fresh, and tasty- and really muddy, too. I think it depends on where it's farmed and under what conditions. I'd pay extra for farmed catfish, though. That's good stuff.

                                          2. s
                                            Steve May 25, 2012 07:50 PM

                                            To me it tastes like catfish. Especially the way catfish used to taste before they farmed it into being flavorless. WIld, muddy (of course), and potentially delicious, though I've had some bad water-logged filets from the supermarket.

                                            1. RealMenJulienne May 26, 2012 07:26 AM

                                              Because it is cheap, prolific, easy to farm, and as a waste recycling meat source it is highly sustainable. You can eat as much tilapia as you want without affecting our overtaxed fisheries. It also takes strong flavors well. I usually dredge in cornstarch, pan fry, and then make a pan sauce of shaoxing wine, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, chopped garlic, and cilantro.

                                              I agree with tommy that the distaste for tilapia based on their diet is pretty ridiculous, for the reasons he has already laid out. Pigs are probably humanity's most important meat source just because they recycle the stuff we won't eat.

                                              1. e
                                                Enigma3 May 26, 2012 09:07 AM

                                                As the Monterrey Bay page states, avoid Tilapia from China and Taiwan. Their "pens" don't allow for the flushing of seawater in large enought quantities to properly clean the "farm". I've seen pictures of these operations and it is not pretty. Unfortunately most Tilapia sold in the USA comes from China and Taiwan. That and the muddy off taste keeps me away from Tilapia.

                                                1. j
                                                  Jeanne May 26, 2012 07:22 PM

                                                  Thanks for the comments. Just wanted to see what other people had to say about tilapia.

                                                  The taste is my concern - not that they eat crap (tommy) - I live in NC where our blue crabs are abundant. I know what they can eat. I wouldn't hesitate to eat anything out of our waters here.

                                                  My point was the taste - to me it has no taste. Yes, you can marinate it, etc. Which is what I did when I used to buy it because it was cheap.

                                                  Just wanted to see if anybody had any positives about it - apparently not!

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: Jeanne
                                                    tommy May 27, 2012 04:55 AM

                                                    You may have misunderstood what I said. I don't care what they eat.

                                                    Regarding the positives: inexpensive, widely available, mild flavor. Those are just some positives that have already been noted in this thread.

                                                  2. kubasd May 26, 2012 07:42 PM

                                                    My initial thought was: Why would you want to? I know a lot of people like it because it is so mild (tasteless to me), and it's cheap. Personally think it's a waste of (the small amount) money. I definitely get the muddy flavor as the ONLY flavor, so I avoid it. But ymmv

                                                    1. emglow101 May 26, 2012 08:43 PM

                                                      I would put tilapia as one of the most overated fish. Raised in ponds it tastes like """""""""""". I never could understand why anyone would buy this.

                                                      18 Replies
                                                      1. re: emglow101
                                                        tommy May 27, 2012 04:56 AM

                                                        To be overrated doesn't something have to be rated highly? Who rates tilapia highly?

                                                        1. re: tommy
                                                          Bacardi1 May 27, 2012 06:17 AM

                                                          Actually, MANY sources rate it highly. Quite a serious number of seafood cookbooks in particular. Recipe websites as well. Whether they're reputable sources or not is anyone's call. Touted as an inexpensive mild white-fleshed fish - perfect for folks who are on the fence about eating fish - & a veritable "clean slate" as far as being able to add a cornucopia of different flavors. Sort of like the "tofu" of the fish world - lol!

                                                          I'm not saying I agree with this, just repeating the advertising/marketing drivel I hear oh so frequently. And someone must be listening, because it's available literally everywhere & people are buying it.

                                                          1. re: Bacardi1
                                                            tommy May 27, 2012 06:37 AM

                                                            Can you cite a few sources?

                                                            "Touted as an inexpensive mild white-fleshed fish - perfect for folks who are on the fence about eating fish - & a veritable "clean slate" as far as being able to add a cornucopia of different flavors."

                                                            If that's why it's rated highly, then it's certainly not overrated, because it fits the bill.

                                                            1. re: tommy
                                                              ipsedixit May 27, 2012 12:40 PM

                                                              I have to agree with tommy here.

                                                              Tilapia -- despite all of its issues from taste to nutrition to environmental impact -- serves a role in the culinary universe.

                                                              Just because some folks here have a "holier than thou" attitude regarding seafood does not make tilapia an absolutely bad fish to eat.

                                                              It's sort of like bashing on Olive Garden. Is it haute Italian cuisine? No, of course not. Is it traditional, authentic Italian? Probably not. But then it's not meant to be those things. It's sort of a gateway for the hoi polloi to experience a little bit of Italian food and cuisine.

                                                              Same with tilapia. Is it King Salmon? No. Is it a fresh cut of o-toro? Of course not. But then it's not mean to be those things.

                                                              Best to judge things as they are meant to be; not what you want them to be.

                                                              Don't complain that your vanilla ice cream isn't very good because it has no chocolate in it.

                                                              1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                mcf May 27, 2012 12:53 PM

                                                                I can agree that it has a role in the nutrition universe, but not the culinary.

                                                                1. re: mcf
                                                                  Cathy May 27, 2012 01:06 PM

                                                                  In ethnic owned restaurants in San Diego, tilapia are prepared in traditional ways (Mexican is fried and Iraqi is masgoof). Never have I tasted "mud", but instead meaty fish with appropriate seasonings and sides.

                                                                  Chinese restaurants prepare tilapia steamed, but I can't find a photo right now.

                                                                  1. re: Cathy
                                                                    mcf May 27, 2012 02:29 PM

                                                                    I know how and where it's used, I just don't think it rises to the level of culinary quality. That doesn't mean folks can't make the best of it, only that I won't be having any. :-)

                                                                2. re: ipsedixit
                                                                  Bacardi1 May 27, 2012 03:25 PM

                                                                  Uh, I think you've seriously misunderstood "tommy" bigtime - lol!!!

                                                                  If you read his other posts, you'll realize that he strongly DISLIKES Tilapia. He's NOT rooting for it - lol!!!! He's simply responding to my previous post that many sources sing Tilapia's praises.

                                                                  You really need to take the time to read a whole thread before posting a comment.

                                                                  1. re: Bacardi1
                                                                    tommy May 28, 2012 07:25 AM

                                                                    ipsedixit has not misunderstood anything I've said from what I can see. I haven't so much as even hinted that I "strongly dislike" tilapia.

                                                                    Still waiting for those sources you mentioned.

                                                                    1. re: tommy
                                                                      mcf May 28, 2012 07:36 AM

                                                                      What sources are you asking for? I know that seafood watch organizations say almost all the tilapia sold in the U.S. is from undesirable producers, with the U.S. farmed the best quality, followed by some farms in places like Ecuador. I've seen film of the appalling conditions that Chinese tilapia is raised in... nothing I'd want near my kitchen.http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/cr...

                                                                      1. re: mcf
                                                                        tommy May 28, 2012 07:41 AM

                                                                        "What sources are you asking for?"

                                                                        "Actually, MANY sources rate it highly. Quite a serious number of seafood cookbooks in particular. Recipe websites as well."

                                                                        1. re: tommy
                                                                          CCSPRINGS May 28, 2012 08:06 AM

                                                                          Recipe websites are never peer reviewed.

                                                                          1. re: tommy
                                                                            mcf May 28, 2012 08:20 AM

                                                                            I don't believe recipes are the thing to rely upon when it comes to food safety, sustainability and quality.

                                                                            1. re: mcf
                                                                              tommy May 28, 2012 08:25 AM

                                                                              Not quite sure what you're saying.

                                                                              1. re: tommy
                                                                                mcf May 28, 2012 10:00 AM

                                                                                I'm saying that I don't consider a recipe to be a good decision making criterion for whether or not a food meets my requirements for good to eat.

                                                                              2. re: mcf
                                                                                tommy May 28, 2012 10:07 AM

                                                                                Yes I agree. But I was asking for references on the "highly rated" aspect.

                                                                                1. re: tommy
                                                                                  mcf May 28, 2012 10:09 AM

                                                                                  That's why I asked. It wasn't clear what you were asking for.

                                                                              3. re: tommy
                                                                                cazort Aug 2, 2012 02:07 PM

                                                                                Rate it highly on what? On taste? Or on sustainability? Or health? I want to eat what tastes good but I care first and foremost about whether what I'm eating is being sustainably produced and is safe and healthy to eat. And everything I've seen on Tilapia, like from Seafood Watch and EDF's Seafood Selector, has made me be cautious of it, especially when it originates in China.

                                                              2. CCSPRINGS May 27, 2012 06:30 AM

                                                                As far as I'm concerned, there are no good reasons to buy it. Raising them yourself is a different matter. Here is a thread I started in the past. CC


                                                                1. chicgail May 27, 2012 06:55 AM

                                                                  Maybe because it's inexpensive.
                                                                  Maybe because it's sustainable and farm raised.
                                                                  Maybe because you don't like fish and it's not "fishy."

                                                                  Not because it tastes good.

                                                                  1. j
                                                                    jhopp217 May 27, 2012 07:42 AM

                                                                    Disliking tilapia is the new "thing," especially on Chowhound. Is it a flavorful fish? Not really, but you can make any dish with Tilapia that you would normally make with cod or sole. I made a tilapa francese and it was amazing. Had I used another white fish it would have been unrecognizable anyway, so for about $2-3 less per lb, why not. Sounds like nothing, but if you want to have a light fish dish once a week, that saves you a bundle in the long run.

                                                                    As for the muddy taste, I'm scared to know where people get their tilapia.

                                                                    47 Replies
                                                                    1. re: jhopp217
                                                                      tommy May 27, 2012 08:00 AM

                                                                      Tilapia can have a sort of off taste at times. Concluding that this is due to their diet, rather than any number of other factors, such as how it's often frozen for a very long time, is probably fallacious. But it's an easy conclusion, and people like easy conclusions.

                                                                      1. re: jhopp217
                                                                        chicgail May 27, 2012 10:22 AM

                                                                        I am unaware that tilapia was a "thing" to dislike on Chowhound or anywhere else. I know a lot of people like it because it is mild and "not fishy" and they don't like the taste of fish. That's fine.

                                                                        Tilapia just has never had much discernible taste to me. I know it is often inexpensive. I know it is sustainable. I know it is mild. I don't care for most other whitefish-like fishes either.

                                                                        I'm of a mind that if you have to figure out what scarf or belt or jewelry will make a dress wearable, you're better off not buying the dress. Similarly, if you have to figure out what to cook with a fish to make it taste like something, you're better off not buying the fish.

                                                                        1. re: chicgail
                                                                          CCSPRINGS May 27, 2012 11:01 AM

                                                                          Agreed! If you don't like fish, don't buy low grade farm raised frozen stuff from China.

                                                                          That will not help you enjoy fish, freshwater or saltwater.

                                                                          1. re: CCSPRINGS
                                                                            2roadsdiverge May 31, 2012 10:44 AM

                                                                            So if someone doesn't like fish, they should buy the expensive, fresh, local fish?

                                                                            1. re: 2roadsdiverge
                                                                              chicgail May 31, 2012 03:02 PM

                                                                              If someone doesn't like fish, why should they buy any fish?

                                                                              1. re: chicgail
                                                                                2roadsdiverge Jun 1, 2012 11:33 AM

                                                                                Doctor's orders.
                                                                                "No red meat, no pork, fresh fish at least twice a week (not including shellfish or canned fish)"

                                                                                I buy tilapia and either drown it in hot sauce or blacken it with cajun seasoning. Paying for fresh, wild swordfish would be ludicrous.

                                                                                1. re: 2roadsdiverge
                                                                                  mcf Jun 1, 2012 01:09 PM

                                                                                  Doctor must not realized that a) fat is good for you and b) pork has almost none, nada, zip due to being bred for leanness. Hence the popularity of heritage breeds and c) tilapia, given its origins hasn't the health benefits of wild caught cold water fish. You'd be better off eating grass fed beef and dairy and some distilled fish oil capsules. :-) Swordfish is high in mercury, so not a great bet, but Trader Joe's if you have one, has an excellent assortment of wild caught, cold water fish in the freezer, good quality stuff for little money.

                                                                                  1. re: mcf
                                                                                    EWSflash Jun 1, 2012 07:40 PM

                                                                                    Old school doctor, I'm guessing.

                                                                                  2. re: 2roadsdiverge
                                                                                    chicgail Jun 2, 2012 03:56 AM

                                                                                    Hopefully you will have the opportunity to try a lot of other fish varieties and find others that please you. Trout is a good place to start. It's sweet and flaky and not "fishy."

                                                                              2. re: CCSPRINGS
                                                                                bulavinaka May 31, 2012 06:31 PM

                                                                                Maybe what is being inferred is, if someone is apprehensive about fish but wants to tests the waters, the fish to be tried should be from the waters closest to home - I think this applies to so many consumables where freshness is key. What seems to pan out in this thread is, fresh tilapia from a more localized source is far more desirable than frozen whose source, method of culture and taste is questionable at best.

                                                                                1. re: bulavinaka
                                                                                  mcf Jun 1, 2012 05:30 AM

                                                                                  Tilpia is pretty much 100% farmed and rarely close to home for anyone in the U.S., though.

                                                                                  1. re: mcf
                                                                                    bulavinaka Jun 1, 2012 05:58 PM

                                                                                    I guess it's regional/cultural. Living in L.A. means Latino and Chinese consumption, which is either "fresh" or even live.

                                                                                    1. re: bulavinaka
                                                                                      mcf Jun 2, 2012 05:53 AM

                                                                                      Is tilpia farmed near LA? That's what I meant.

                                                                                      1. re: mcf
                                                                                        bulavinaka Jun 2, 2012 06:07 AM

                                                                                        I've never researched the subject, but by searching online, at least a few farms from the deserts areas surrounding LA do come up. I know tilapia have been used as "aqua-goats" to clear out/keep out invasive vegetation growing in Arizona waterways as well.

                                                                                        As has been mentioned already - tilapia are very resilient. As long as the temps aren't cold, they'll survive most other conditions. I would think that this would make them easy to transport and hold as long as the weather/climate is mild to hot - pretty much what weather in much of southern California is like. And this is probably why seeing tilapia in live holding tanks or offered fresh is common around LA.

                                                                                        1. re: bulavinaka
                                                                                          mcf Jun 2, 2012 06:09 AM

                                                                                          Yes, their hardiness is why most of the tilapia in stores come from such disgusting condtions. I have yet to see U.S. farmed tilapia in stores, though I'm sure there's some.

                                                                                          1. re: mcf
                                                                                            bulavinaka Jun 2, 2012 06:43 AM

                                                                                            I've made one or two satirical comments (based on true experiences) on this thread about tilapia, but I really don't feel here or there about this fish relative to food. My personal experience eating tilapia has left me unimpressed to slightly turned off. It tasted like bland to muddy in my experiences. I can accept bland as long as the seasonings are acceptable (as I've mentioned already - like fish tofu). But what does keep my eyes on tilapia is one poster on the LA board, westsidegal. She is a pescatarian, and has a very discriminating palate. What seems to be one of her regular dishes at a Mexican seafood place (Coni'Seafood/Mariscos Chente in Inglewood) is mojarra frita - a whole deep-fried tilapia. This restaurant is known for its excellent renditions of regional seafood found on parts of the Pacific in Mexico.



                                                                                            Neither article mentions the mojarra frita, but does imply how good this place can be. However, here's westsidegal's post, recommending Coni and among other dishes, the mojarra frita:


                                                                                            Mariscos Chente/Coni is gifted with an amazing chef, Sergio Penueles and an unrelenting standard for freshness - this combination might be what makes even the belittled tilapia a superstar here. With the pescado zerandeado being the stellar dish to get here, I've never considered the mojarra frita, but one of these days, I just might...

                                                                                            1. re: bulavinaka
                                                                                              ipsedixit Jun 2, 2012 12:29 PM

                                                                                              RE: mojarra frita

                                                                                              Most things are improved deep-fried.

                                                                                              1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                                                bulavinaka Jun 2, 2012 01:18 PM

                                                                                                Ain't that the truth... Our daughter hates vegetables, unless they are _____ frita.

                                                                                                1. re: bulavinaka
                                                                                                  ipsedixit Jun 2, 2012 01:20 PM

                                                                                                  In all seriousness, there is a reason why tilapia is not generally used as sushi/sashimi, crduo, or ceviche, right?

                                                                                                  One can mask all sorts of things by deep-frying.

                                                                                                  For somethings in life, lipstick does go a long way. Just depends on the type of pig you have ...

                                                                                          2. re: bulavinaka
                                                                                            emglow101 Jun 2, 2012 09:18 AM

                                                                                            Just crossed my mind. What fish lives in the Salton Sea.? Tilapia. They must be resilient.

                                                                                            1. re: emglow101
                                                                                              bulavinaka Jun 2, 2012 10:12 AM

                                                                                              Hey emglow! I hope you're doing well in SC. As I was referring to Mariscos Chente, I couldn't help but think about your frequent visits, and POOF! Here you are... Did you get a chance to try Sergio's mojarra frita?

                                                                                              1. re: bulavinaka
                                                                                                emglow101 Jun 2, 2012 11:04 AM

                                                                                                Yep, everthing is well. I did not try the mojarra frita. I really miss Sergios food. I might have to make the trek down there. I had a wonderful meal last time with my nephew and family. Been there lately ?

                                                                                                1. re: emglow101
                                                                                                  bulavinaka Jun 2, 2012 01:17 PM

                                                                                                  Sadly no. We've been M.I.A. due to some home issues, but hope to be back in the swing of things soon...

                                                                                                  1. re: bulavinaka
                                                                                                    emglow101 Jun 2, 2012 09:50 PM

                                                                                                    OK, This is the way things work out. I just opened my email and there's a message from my nephew. We have more work for you. That means I will be making the trek south. Mojarra frita, I'm not sure. I'll let Sergio decide for me. Wow !!

                                                                                2. re: chicgail
                                                                                  jhopp217 May 28, 2012 06:51 PM

                                                                                  This could be an argument for many foods (some expensive). I for the life of me can not figure out lobster. I have told friends of mine that I will buy their lobster if they eat the entire thing in front of me without anything to flavor it. No butter, no lemon. Just plain. So far, nobody has taken me up on it and their usual excuse "I want to enjoy it." I love butter and lemon too, but I'm not paying for a lobster to taste it.

                                                                                  Also my feeling on Filet Mignon. Without seasoning it well and properly, I don't feel it has any taste whatsoever. I realize people love it, but what exactly do they love about the meat itself?

                                                                                  1. re: jhopp217
                                                                                    CCSPRINGS May 28, 2012 08:16 PM

                                                                                    I'll eat a plain lobster in front of you. Does salt count?

                                                                                    1. re: CCSPRINGS
                                                                                      mcf May 29, 2012 01:51 PM

                                                                                      Hey, I'll fight you for it, even though I just ate my half of a 4 lb hard shell last night! Boiled with sea salt.

                                                                                      1. re: CCSPRINGS
                                                                                        Njchicaa May 29, 2012 02:05 PM

                                                                                        I'll do the same with King Crab legs too. No salt necessary

                                                                                        1. re: Njchicaa
                                                                                          jhopp217 May 29, 2012 03:54 PM

                                                                                          Crab Legs are a whole other story. Crab meat blows lobster meat way.

                                                                                          1. re: jhopp217
                                                                                            mcf May 30, 2012 01:42 PM

                                                                                            NO! Lobstah lobstah lobstah! Preferably boiled in a big kettle of sea water.

                                                                                            1. re: mcf
                                                                                              EWSflash Jun 1, 2012 07:41 PM

                                                                                              I'll take either one- I live in the desert

                                                                                      2. re: jhopp217
                                                                                        chicgail May 29, 2012 12:57 PM

                                                                                        ME! I'll do it. I love it that way. Lobster is food of the gods. Don't need butter, salt, lemon. Nothin' but lobster!

                                                                                        1. re: chicgail
                                                                                          Kchallis Jul 31, 2012 11:26 AM


                                                                                          1. re: chicgail
                                                                                            Puffin3 Aug 14, 2012 08:17 AM

                                                                                            PLEASE don't "boil" any type of protein'. As soon as protein strands reach 200 degrees F the strands turn into rubber. That applies to lobster as well as eggs, beef etc etc. Just bring the water, if you must use water, to a hard simmer, check the temp. add whatever and let simmer. Notice how the fancy/expensive 'Sous Vide immersion cookers' work? None of them 'boil' food.

                                                                                          2. re: jhopp217
                                                                                            mcf May 29, 2012 01:51 PM

                                                                                            I often eat steamed or boiled lobster plain. There's butter on the table and some lemon, but the meat is so sweet I often just end up eating much of it plain.

                                                                                            1. re: jhopp217
                                                                                              raytamsgv May 29, 2012 01:53 PM

                                                                                              I've had both lobster and filet mignon without any seasoning. Delicious!

                                                                                              1. re: jhopp217
                                                                                                kubasd May 30, 2012 04:48 PM

                                                                                                I've seen you post that a bunch of times, and every time I think.... I NEVER use butter or lemon on my lobster... they mask the yummy flavor!!

                                                                                                1. re: kubasd
                                                                                                  mcf May 30, 2012 05:51 PM

                                                                                                  I so disagree! Sweet butter and lemon enhances it. But I love it either way.

                                                                                                  1. re: kubasd
                                                                                                    jhopp217 May 30, 2012 09:11 PM

                                                                                                    You're in the minority. Not only that....and trust me...there are people who have almost taken me up on it...started eating and then said....sorry, can't do it

                                                                                                    1. re: jhopp217
                                                                                                      chicgail May 31, 2012 04:40 AM

                                                                                                      I'd love to take you up on your challenge.

                                                                                                      1. re: jhopp217
                                                                                                        ipsedixit May 31, 2012 07:35 AM


                                                                                                        I don't think I have ever eaten lobster with butter and/or lemon. At least, not in a non-sandwich form (i.e., with a lobster roll being the only exception and then only with lemon and mayo)

                                                                                                        I either have lobster straight up with a soy, garlic and ginger dipping sauce, or stir-fried with ginger, garlic, green onions and perhaps XO sauce.

                                                                                                        To tell you the truth, I think lobster with butter is sort of disgusting. But that's probably because I detest butter in almost all applications except in baking.

                                                                                                        1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                                                          jhopp217 Aug 2, 2012 02:48 PM

                                                                                                          But you are still proving my point. Soy, garlic, ginger on anything will taste like soy, garlic, ginger....could be lobster...could be a napkin

                                                                                                          1. re: jhopp217
                                                                                                            tommy Aug 2, 2012 03:04 PM

                                                                                                            This has certainly not been my experience.

                                                                                                            1. re: jhopp217
                                                                                                              2roadsdiverge Aug 3, 2012 10:38 AM

                                                                                                              Do you feel the same way about beef, pork, chicken? Or is it just the subtle taste of lobster that is "overwhelmed" by soy, garlic, and ginger? What about shrimp? What about surimi/fake crab? Does it all taste the same to you?

                                                                                                              1. re: 2roadsdiverge
                                                                                                                mcf Aug 3, 2012 06:37 PM

                                                                                                                I feel that way only about lobster.

                                                                                                  2. re: jhopp217
                                                                                                    cazort Aug 2, 2012 02:09 PM

                                                                                                    I'm not concerned with whether or not it's "trendy" to like or dislike Tilapia. What I am concerned with is whether or not this fish is being produced in a healthy and sustainable way.

                                                                                                    And so far, what I have seen suggests that, especially when it originates in China, it is not. This is the official stance of Seafood Watch, and EDF's Seafood Selector, and I trust both these authorities more than I trust any chef or cookbook author.

                                                                                                    1. re: cazort
                                                                                                      kmcarr Aug 4, 2012 03:00 PM


                                                                                                  3. Bob Brooks May 27, 2012 05:02 PM

                                                                                                    Forget tilapia and buy swai, instead. It's cleanly farm-raised in Vietnam and is utterly delicious. Lovely, firm flesh with a clean taste and never a fishy smell. It's also quite inexpensive.

                                                                                                    6 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: Bob Brooks
                                                                                                      Bacardi1 May 28, 2012 06:15 AM

                                                                                                      Wow! You definitely need to do some more research Bob. "Swai" (of which there's another thread somewhere here on Chow that was started recently) is one of the very WORST recommendations. Farm-raised? Yes - but definitely NOT "cleanly". The Vietnamese fish farms have the worst reputations re: the additions of illegal meds, hormones, & Lord knows what else to their stock, & quite a bit of those fish are turned away at port by the FDA for positive tests.

                                                                                                      In addition, the importation of Swai is yet another pending nail in the coffin of our own WONDERFUL, certified-CLEAN U.S. farmed catfish industry, which deserves our support far far more than Vietnam.

                                                                                                      1. re: Bacardi1
                                                                                                        Bob Brooks Aug 12, 2012 02:00 PM

                                                                                                        Here's a little more research that might be of interest to you:


                                                                                                        1. re: Bob Brooks
                                                                                                          Bacardi1 Aug 12, 2012 02:41 PM

                                                                                                          Sorry, but the key phrase in this article is "know & trust your vendor & supplier". That's an almost ridiculous remark in this day & age. How many folks can really say that they do? Particularly in this day & age when nearly all supermarkets have their own seafood counters. It's not the same as when there were many solely dedicated fish markets around.

                                                                                                          Sorry, but you won't be finding me buying Basa or Swai. Only certified U.S. Farmed Catfish for me. You can do what you want.

                                                                                                          1. re: Bacardi1
                                                                                                            mcf Aug 12, 2012 02:51 PM


                                                                                                          2. re: Bob Brooks
                                                                                                            Worththedrive Aug 24, 2012 12:45 PM

                                                                                                            That was the most relevant information posted so far. Personally, I try not to purchase foods from Asia, particularly when it comes to my pets. I'm not so diligent with myself, but at least that is my choice. I live in Canada and would prefer that my money goes to my own country and with all of our resources there really isn't a need to look outside our borders (unless it is bananas you are after :).

                                                                                                        2. re: Bob Brooks
                                                                                                          mcf May 28, 2012 07:33 AM

                                                                                                          Seafood watch seems to find swai acceptable without the types of warnings given wrt tilapia. Still, given how polluted and unregulated so many Asian fish farms are, I avoid it.

                                                                                                        3. c
                                                                                                          Cathy May 28, 2012 10:47 AM

                                                                                                          I buy tilapia, and all fish, whole. I want to see the animal I am paying for. I started to do this after 'catfish filets' I had purchased (at a high price) seemed to be the same texture and flavor as tilapia.


                                                                                                          1. b
                                                                                                            bulavinaka May 28, 2012 01:00 PM

                                                                                                            So I guess the general consensus on tilapia is:

                                                                                                            - Its intended qualities are very mild and flakey - potentially a bit fishy (in a good way) and sweet.

                                                                                                            - At its worst, no flavor, muddy, spongy.

                                                                                                            - Great entry level fish for the fish-averse.

                                                                                                            - Economical source of protein

                                                                                                            - Nutritional value can be somewhat controversial, even when raised properly.

                                                                                                            - Can be a platform for other flavors, a la piscine tofu.

                                                                                                            - Like fish/H2O protein in general, fresh is by far the best.

                                                                                                            - Frozen/processed is okay, as long as it's from the Western Hemisphere.

                                                                                                            - When farmed properly, it's a good thing all the way around

                                                                                                            - When farmed with disregard to health, safety, the environment, etc., it's the opposite of the previous statement - Red Flag.

                                                                                                            - You're either gonna love it or hate it. Such is the world.

                                                                                                            5 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: bulavinaka
                                                                                                              Bacardi1 May 28, 2012 01:10 PM

                                                                                                              And you know what?

                                                                                                              Quite frankly, Tilapia isn't worth arguing about any further.

                                                                                                              1. re: Bacardi1
                                                                                                                tommy May 28, 2012 01:15 PM

                                                                                                                You noted that it's quite a highly rated fish. By whom?

                                                                                                                1. re: tommy
                                                                                                                  mcf May 28, 2012 01:40 PM

                                                                                                                  To quote someone smarter than I: when the horse is dead, dismount.

                                                                                                                  1. re: mcf
                                                                                                                    tommy May 28, 2012 01:44 PM

                                                                                                                    You are free to move on. LOL!

                                                                                                                    1. re: tommy
                                                                                                                      mcf May 29, 2012 01:52 PM


                                                                                                            2. smaki May 29, 2012 01:38 PM

                                                                                                              I minimize eating any farm-raised fish as a general rule. Crowded in pens farm raised salmon are often dirty with more parasites compare to salmon raised in nature. Expert nutritionists say farm raised fish does not have the same benefits of eating fish from nature grown eating a natural diet. Farm feed is often made of GMO corn even rodents won't eat (as is often their lowest cost option to maximize profit). Water all over the world is getting more and more polluted - eating fish from dirty water is not the best.

                                                                                                              More info on farming Talapia is at: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/02/science/earth/02tilapia.html Tilapia has both nutritional and environmental drawbacks, "Compared with other fish, farmed tilapia contains relatively small amounts of beneficial omega-3 fatty acids, the fish oils that are the main reasons doctors recommend eating fish frequently; salmon has more than 10 times the amount of tilapia. Also, farmed tilapia contains a less healthful mix of fatty acids because the fish are fed corn and soy instead of lake plants and algae, the diet of wild tilapia." For producers Talapia is hearty fish ideal because it tolerates overcrowding and does not need expensive meat-based feed. “It may look like fish and taste like fish 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 (at the above link).

                                                                                                              Here is an older article written back in 2007 that explains the Talapia growth in the American market. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/... Some time in the last few years when wasn't looking Talapia replaced Catfish at my local store (same spot in the showcase). When catfish disappeared Talapia appeared - given a choice I like catfish better. Talapia is easy to produce is why it is on the market - farm raised fish of any kind is not the best thing. If eat is best done only in moderation.

                                                                                                              I choose more often to eat non-farm fish fed a natural diet. We vote with our dollars for what retailers carry in our stores.

                                                                                                              1. p
                                                                                                                PenskeFan May 30, 2012 11:25 AM

                                                                                                                Tilapia is like the Olive Garden of fish. Popular and ubiquitous, but it seems the majority discerning people pass on it in favor of other choices.

                                                                                                                9 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: PenskeFan
                                                                                                                  jhopp217 May 30, 2012 01:29 PM

                                                                                                                  While my disdain for tilapia as passionate as yours, I did have to take a look at Olive Garden's menu (I have never and don't plan on ever going there). They have two tilapia dishes listed at $22 & $25. Unless this is a serving for four, that is crazy!

                                                                                                                  1. re: jhopp217
                                                                                                                    PenskeFan May 30, 2012 01:37 PM

                                                                                                                    Somehow I was almost sure they would have tilapia there :) I think there must be bonus points for having wildly overpriced tilapia :)

                                                                                                                    1. re: PenskeFan
                                                                                                                      jhopp217 May 30, 2012 09:12 PM

                                                                                                                      Maybe that's how they advertise....Wild tilapia....but they mean the price

                                                                                                                    2. re: jhopp217
                                                                                                                      mcf May 30, 2012 01:44 PM

                                                                                                                      I see one for $15.75 with pasta and veggies.

                                                                                                                      1. re: jhopp217
                                                                                                                        mpjmph May 30, 2012 04:44 PM

                                                                                                                        It appears they are using location services to adjust the menu for different viewers. I only see one tilapia dish listed, and it's only $14.95 in my region.

                                                                                                                        1. re: mpjmph
                                                                                                                          2roadsdiverge May 31, 2012 10:49 AM

                                                                                                                          Same here. One tilapia dish: Parmesan Crusted Tilapia - Oven-baked delicate white fish crusted with parmesan cheese. Served with Italian vegetables over angel hair tossed in a light garlic-butter sauce. $14.95 (Kansas City)

                                                                                                                          When I look up OG restaurants in other parts of the country I see the same dish, but different prices.
                                                                                                                          Los Angeles (Galleria) - $16.95
                                                                                                                          New York (Times Square) - $19.95

                                                                                                                          There is also a "Seafood Brodetto" that includes tilapia alongside scallops and shrimp.

                                                                                                                          1. re: 2roadsdiverge
                                                                                                                            Kchallis Jul 31, 2012 11:31 AM

                                                                                                                            Holy moly batman! They want to charge what for tilapia?! This is when being the home cook makes eating out not fun: seeing the price and realizing you could buy 5 lbs of it and feed your whole family nearly the exact same dish with pantry ingredients for the exact same price.

                                                                                                                            1. re: Kchallis
                                                                                                                              2roadsdiverge Aug 2, 2012 12:56 PM

                                                                                                                              Eh, I'd pay $14.95 to avoid doing the dishes.

                                                                                                                              1. re: 2roadsdiverge
                                                                                                                                EWSflash Aug 14, 2012 08:04 PM

                                                                                                                                LOL! But I must say that's lame

                                                                                                                    3. arktos Jun 1, 2012 01:57 PM

                                                                                                                      I've read that tilipia breaks up in a stew such as a boullaibaisse or a chippino. And that you need a firmer, thicker fish, is this true?

                                                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: arktos
                                                                                                                        deet13 Jun 1, 2012 06:17 PM

                                                                                                                        Tilapia can break up if you boil it too long.

                                                                                                                        I tend to add tilapia to a stew during the last five minutes of cooking, and I use it primarily as a meat "filler".

                                                                                                                        1. re: deet13
                                                                                                                          smaki Jun 1, 2012 07:11 PM

                                                                                                                          +1, last five minutes is best for tilapia in soup and stew. I agree with deet13

                                                                                                                          I use tilapia like shrimp you do not want to over-cook in a stew or gumbo. I cook shrimp only a few minutes and tilapia bite sized chunks a bit longer. Will not have time to over-cook or break apart by cooking seafood right at the end. Some vegetables are best this way as well. When done, be sure to pull off heat. The too-long-covered-on-heat pot on the stove can make left overs terrible.

                                                                                                                          1. re: smaki
                                                                                                                            arktos Jun 2, 2012 09:10 AM

                                                                                                                            Thanks, great tips. So, I take it, no boiling, but a 5 minute braise maximum??

                                                                                                                            1. re: arktos
                                                                                                                              deet13 Jun 2, 2012 04:27 PM

                                                                                                                              Yup, that sounds about right.

                                                                                                                              And IMO, since tilapia takes on the strongest flavors in the stew pot, don't use it as the primary meat in the stew.

                                                                                                                      2. e
                                                                                                                        emu48 Jun 1, 2012 10:34 PM

                                                                                                                        Tilapia is a great fish for the kind of people who think Mexican food tastes too Mexican and fish tastes too fishy.

                                                                                                                        Other than that, I've found it OK when steamed Cantonese-style with ginger, green onions, soy sauce and a few drops of sesame oil. The Chinese evidently invented that recipe to cope with the fishes that are abundant in rural China, if not terribly flavorsome, such as grass carp. It's a tasty dish, but the taste is mostly added by the cook.

                                                                                                                        1. cazort Aug 2, 2012 02:13 PM

                                                                                                                          Tilapia CAN be farmed in an environmentally friendly manner, but in the absence of an independent certifying agency, or recommendation from something like Seafood Watch or EDF's Seafood Selector, I would not recommend buying it.

                                                                                                                          In terms of the advantages, Tilapia has a mild flavor and is flexible, and tends to be tender and have a moist texture. I find it to be very versatile; it's a little more substantive though than trout or flounder, which is another advantage.

                                                                                                                          There are many upsides to this fish, but I'd be very cautious about buying it unless you know where it's from. Check out these two sources:



                                                                                                                          Both say it's a best choice if produced in the US, and a good alternative or okay choice if produced in Latin America, but something to avoid or a worst choice if farmed in China or elsewhere in Asia. A possible exception might be a few farms in Asia that have third-party sustainable certifications, such as what you see in some supermarket chains, like Aldi.

                                                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: cazort
                                                                                                                            Bacardi1 Aug 12, 2012 03:41 PM

                                                                                                                            What creeps me out the most about Tilapia, is how many restaurants now use it as "fish of choice". It's friggin everywhere - from every broiled/baked dish, to fish-&-chips. And since very few people are going to ask if it's locally-environmentally-safe raised, I highly doubt restaurants are buying from safe sources.

                                                                                                                            Thus, I never knowingly purchases Tilapia dishes in restaurants.

                                                                                                                            1. re: Bacardi1
                                                                                                                              tommy Aug 12, 2012 03:49 PM

                                                                                                                              I don't order fish from just any restaurant for similar reasons. Tilapia, to me, doesn't stand out all that much around the salmon of the world. People have no idea what they're eating. Tilapia is the new whipping boy. Maybe this is a good thing, if people actually start to understand rather than just pile on. But there I go again, hoping that people look into issues and form opinions, rather than just having opinions.

                                                                                                                              1. re: Bacardi1
                                                                                                                                EWSflash Aug 14, 2012 08:12 PM

                                                                                                                                What creeps me out most about tilapia is when I went to the local zoo, and in the flamingo exhibit, the tilapia had obviously bred like flies, and there were milions of small ones in the water, trying like mad to get to the outflow and ESCAPE. I hope they sent them to other water bodies, because those poor things were trying to get the hell out of the overcrowded conditions. It pissed me off, in the same way that putting bettas in small cups in pet stores does. Everything does better in cleaner enclosures, with more room to move.
                                                                                                                                I've had tilapia that was really good, but for the most part the people who would serve you tilapia either don't care or don't know or look for the absolute cheapest price- it totally depends on how the fish are raised. And that's a crap shoot these days unless you know where it comes from.

                                                                                                                            2. Karl S Aug 3, 2012 04:40 PM

                                                                                                                              Late to the game but let me add something. I eat fish daily with few exceptions, and buy fish 3x a week.

                                                                                                                              All but one of my experiences with tilapia in restaurants have been awful or meh, so I've never bothered to buy it myself.

                                                                                                                              But. Two weeks ago, my fishmonger (it really helps to be a regular at a fish counter, let me caution you folks; when you are a regular, fishmongers give you tips and things they don't give as frequently to non-regulars) at the Market Basket in Chelsea MA (a wonderful 135,000 sf zoo of a place for what might be called the value shopper, and which has a fish section that puts Whole Foods to shame both in terms of handling of fish and prices charged - because it has a high volume of highly demanding customers who won't pay lotsa of money for crappily handled fish) pointed out that he had some saltwater farmed tilapia from Costa RIca (which they don't get in as often) at the back of his tray of mostly Ecuadoran tilapia; he said the tilapia from this Costa Rican farm was great and that I should try it.

                                                                                                                              Maybe it was the power of suggestion/placebo, but I was not expecting to enjoy it as much as I did.

                                                                                                                              I've long heard that there is good tilapia to be had. I now know there is. It may not, however, be worth a search, but if you are willing to taste and reject in order to taste and enjoy and save $$$, know that much.

                                                                                                                              1. Ruthie789 Aug 12, 2012 03:03 PM

                                                                                                                                I pass on tilapia, although it is inexpensive. We lived in Northern Quebec and I got used to fresh fish. Tilapia is very dry. Not sure if I can change my mind on this one. I first tasted it at a restaurant and it was awful, perhaps I need to follow the recommendations of the above post.

                                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                                1. re: Ruthie789
                                                                                                                                  Puffin3 Aug 13, 2012 01:15 AM

                                                                                                                                  Yeah I tried 'T' a couple of times. 'Farm fish is fed some pretty awful stuff. It tasted like it had been washed in formaldehyde..............I guess that's because it was. If you are looking for excellent quality wild caught fish at a reasonable price try 'white fish'. It's commercially fished in lakes. If you're ever driving through N./central Ontario in the fall you can buy smoked white fish at many road side shops. IMO smoked white fish is right up there with the best smoked fish any where and it's cheap cheap cheap compared to many other types of smoked fish. Buy twenty pounds of fillets and freeze them when you get home. (They'll be fine for at least a week covered in ice because they were smoked.) Best Christmas party treat served with a cucumber/dill home made aioli on home made whole wheat crackers.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Puffin3
                                                                                                                                    Worththedrive Aug 24, 2012 12:58 PM

                                                                                                                                    yum - can you provide some more specifics on where in N/C Ontario you can find the smoked whitefish? fall is around the corner and i live in ontario ;)

                                                                                                                                2. Bill Hunt Aug 13, 2012 09:07 PM

                                                                                                                                  It is a mild white fish, that can take on the flavors of the preparation. They are easily raised in community tanks, and reproduce prolifically, growing quickly.

                                                                                                                                  By themselves, they are not that flavorful, but with good prep, they can be delicious. There have been several "talapia cookoffs" with master chefs from New Orleans, and the dishes have been very good to excellent.


                                                                                                                                  12 Replies
                                                                                                                                  1. re: Bill Hunt
                                                                                                                                    Bacardi1 Aug 14, 2012 06:31 AM

                                                                                                                                    "They are easily raised in community tanks, and reproduce prolifically, growing quickly."

                                                                                                                                    Therein lies the problem for me. Those "community tanks" can be downright FOUL. One reason why I don't buy Tilapia is the distinct memory of the tanks at one of our local ethnic supermarkets. Decidedly funky-looking murky water with extremely too-large-for-the-tanks Tilapia swimming around, waiting to be purchased. Makes me nauseous just thinking about it.

                                                                                                                                    Unless you can ascertain that the fish you are purchasing have been certifiably raised in the U.S. under hygienic conditions, I'd still pass Tilapia by.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Bacardi1
                                                                                                                                      tommy Aug 14, 2012 06:33 AM

                                                                                                                                      I don't think those tanks were the breeding/raising tanks.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: tommy
                                                                                                                                        Karl S Aug 14, 2012 06:38 AM

                                                                                                                                        Correct. Also, neither the ocean nor lakes are hygenic. Fish will congregate where there's lots of food, often in the most un-hygenic parts of the water. And fish in the ocean and lakes all have at least trace amounts of mercury. Just sayin'. One is always making choice around risks, and the idea of ocean and lakes necessarily being pure is a somewhat romantic idea.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Karl S
                                                                                                                                          Puffin3 Aug 14, 2012 08:27 AM

                                                                                                                                          I have to add that up the BC coast there is some of the cleanest water on the planet teeming with all forms of sea life. Yes mercury has probably found it's way there but not much else. If you have all the money in the world and you want to eat as fresh/clean sea food as you can get hire a float plane in Van. and fly up to some of the most isolated fiords the pilot is willing to fly you to and spend a couple of weeks there. There are a few really small resorts who are willing to take your money and feed you incredible sea food. It will change the way you look at sea food forever. I was a fishing guide at one of those 'fly-in' fishing resorts and can attest to the reaction of virtually every guest when they had their first local caught sea food meals. The odd guest w/ companion did get off the Twin Otter and head for their room and didn't leave the room for a week but not too many. LOL

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Puffin3
                                                                                                                                            Ruthie789 Aug 14, 2012 10:54 AM

                                                                                                                                            Once you have the freshest off the boat fish, nothing compares. I really have a difficult time eating fish because of this, and sometimes prefer the flash frozen to the so called fresh that we see in the markets. In Montreal, the only place that I have really liked the fish has been at the Atwater market. At least the fishmonger there has the common sense to give you the fish on ice chips.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: Puffin3
                                                                                                                                              Karl S Aug 14, 2012 11:42 AM

                                                                                                                                              I don't dispute this at all. I am just poking at assumptions of hygenic situations that may not be as widespread as wished, that's all.

                                                                                                                                          2. re: tommy
                                                                                                                                            Bacardi1 Aug 14, 2012 02:26 PM

                                                                                                                                            I realize that, but I'd never buy a fish under those conditions, & the picture remains with me every time I see Tilapia in the market or on a supermarket menu.

                                                                                                                                            And frankly, I've read that the conditions under which most Tilapia are farm-raised aren't really all that different than those disgusting supermarket holding tanks.

                                                                                                                                            Buy it & enjoy it if you like Tommy. It's just not for me.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: Bacardi1
                                                                                                                                              tommy Aug 14, 2012 02:38 PM

                                                                                                                                              I do not enjoy or buy tilapia.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: tommy
                                                                                                                                                Bacardi1 Aug 14, 2012 05:35 PM

                                                                                                                                                So since I don't either, & have stated that several times, you're just being argumentative then?

                                                                                                                                                1. re: Bacardi1
                                                                                                                                                  tommy Aug 14, 2012 06:43 PM

                                                                                                                                                  I said "I don't think those tanks were the breeding/raising tanks." Just trying to help you and others understand. If that's not of interest to you, you can certainly ignore what I say.

                                                                                                                                                  You go on to say "Buy it & enjoy it if you like Tommy."

                                                                                                                                                  And I clarify my position on the subject by saying "I do not enjoy or buy tilapia."

                                                                                                                                                  Can't find any "argument" there.

                                                                                                                                            2. re: tommy
                                                                                                                                              Bacardi1 Aug 14, 2012 02:27 PM

                                                                                                                                              duplicate post

                                                                                                                                          3. re: Bill Hunt
                                                                                                                                            EWSflash Aug 14, 2012 08:15 PM

                                                                                                                                            Good to know- it reinforces my "sometimes it's really good" platform.

                                                                                                                                          4. Ruthie789 Aug 14, 2012 04:37 PM

                                                                                                                                            I have replied that I do not buy tilapia. However, it is affordable, and if it is an option, because of the cost , we should not disregard this food as a viable source of protein. Consumers eat according to their budgets and this has to be considered.

                                                                                                                                            1. l
                                                                                                                                              Lucas19 Aug 14, 2012 06:47 PM

                                                                                                                                              Tilapia will feed on anything, in fact the most common way to farm tilapia is to raise another fish say Salmon and after you harvest them Tilapia is raised on the waste...aka the cheapest fish available...I would become vegetarian before I would eat Tilapia.

                                                                                                                                              6 Replies
                                                                                                                                              1. re: Lucas19
                                                                                                                                                Puffin3 Aug 17, 2012 09:19 AM

                                                                                                                                                I visited a 'fish farm some time ago in California. Huge turkey pens and dozens of ponds. They turned the turkey poop and the guts and bones into pellets and fed them to the 'trout' and sold the turkey meat that had been pressure washed off the turkey bones then 'formed' into turkey 'cold cuts. They turned the trout guts and bones and poop into pellets and fed them to the turkeys. Yummy. That was the last day I ever even considered buying any 'farm fish' or turkey that I hadn't chosen from the local organic turkey farm down the road.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: Puffin3
                                                                                                                                                  meatn3 Aug 17, 2012 04:34 PM

                                                                                                                                                  Many fish eat waste in the wild. If you are ever diving by an anchored boat and someone flushes the head - well, lets just say the fish are very excited.

                                                                                                                                                  Taking it further, animals of all types eat waste and seek it out. Part of the cycle of life.

                                                                                                                                                  I'd rather see the parts not used for human consumption used rather than dumped. We have become so accustomed to being several steps away from our food source that we don't realize how much waste is generated in creating attractive food.

                                                                                                                                                2. re: Lucas19
                                                                                                                                                  mpjmph Aug 17, 2012 09:34 AM

                                                                                                                                                  Eating waste is not unique to tilapia. Many fish will eat pretty much any organic matter they encounter, and will try to eat non-organic matter if it is the right size/shape/color. What do you think catfish in the wild are eating? Or crustaceans? When bivalves filter the water, do you think they only keep the "clean" particles and let the "gross" ones pass through?

                                                                                                                                                  Many people, myself included, appreciate the use of waste from one food source to produce another food source. Waste no, want not, and all that.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: mpjmph
                                                                                                                                                    Karl S Aug 17, 2012 10:07 AM

                                                                                                                                                    Indeed, if one is concerned about copraphagic food sources, avoid wild fish and wild turkeys (and a lot of wild animals).

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Karl S
                                                                                                                                                      Bacardi1 Aug 17, 2012 10:18 AM

                                                                                                                                                      To both you Karl S & to mpjmph - there's a BIG difference to me re: copraphagic food sources eaten by wildlife vs. unnatural items forced upon them by unhygienic farming practices. BIG difference. Maybe not to you, but definitely to me.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Bacardi1
                                                                                                                                                        Karl S Aug 17, 2012 10:35 AM

                                                                                                                                                        There's a difference. It can vary from big to not as big.

                                                                                                                                                3. g
                                                                                                                                                  groogle Feb 25, 2013 02:18 PM

                                                                                                                                                  I wanted to find out why tilapia is so common now, and why we never see North Atlantic cod anymore, and even an advertisement for Gortons fish sticks now promotes tilapia, instead of the traditional fare for many years, North Pacific pollock. If you are my age or older, you know that in the 70s cod, scrod, and haddock were common whitefish at any fish store and restaurant. Somewhere along the way the North Atlantic cod was virtually wiped out by factory fisheries.

                                                                                                                                                  Tilapia is different from just the next-most available species in the ocean. Tilapia is a sustainably produced resource, unlike the unregulated extermination of cod and haddock. North Pacific pollock fishing is regulated. Tilapia, however, is a farm fish, and if we think of it like chicken, we can understand it is a species we can ensure will remain for years. I choose to eat tilapia, even if I prefer the flavor of cod, because tilapia is ethical.

                                                                                                                                                  Recently I bought a 40 oz package of tilapia, and I made fish sandwishes out of them. They were so delicious, I could not wait to buy more.

                                                                                                                                                  As an aside, the Salton Sea in California...an artificially created desert lake with an extremely high salt concentration, is almost exclusively filled with tilapia, one of the few species that can exist in such a high saline solution.

                                                                                                                                                  9 Replies
                                                                                                                                                  1. re: groogle
                                                                                                                                                    fldhkybnva Feb 26, 2013 10:09 AM

                                                                                                                                                    Perhaps I will give it a try. My fishmonger somehow convinced me to buy 2 lbs of tilapia a few weeks ago. Well, she offered a few filets but I think I was so hungry which explains why I was just standing and staring at the fish counter unsure of what to buy that I decided on 2 lbs. After a few searches on the best way to prepare tilapia, I felt defeated by all of the reports of "muddy, mushy nastiness" and tossed it in the freezer. I am a huge fish fan and love the species with a distinct natural flavor such as tuna, salmon and swordfish and so the reports of bad mouth feel and "it tastes like whatever you season it with" turned me off. My initial thought was to try tilapia tacos so maybe I will give it a try, though at this point the frozen filets are a sunk cost. I'm glad to hear a positive review however. How did you make your fish sandwiches?

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: fldhkybnva
                                                                                                                                                      Bill Hunt Feb 26, 2013 05:50 PM

                                                                                                                                                      There are many recipes for talipia, and several New Orleans chefs took up the challenge some years ago. [I looked for that competition, but could not find it.]

                                                                                                                                                      I have had it deep fried (Zatarain's Fish Fry), and it was good. I have had it baked, with lemon, capers and white wine, and that was good too. I have never had "Blackened Cajun Talipia," but that might be good too.

                                                                                                                                                      My wife often uses a particular fish in her gumbo, sheepshead, when available. That is considered by some to be a "trash fish" in the Gulf South, but works well in the gumbo. It has a slightly more "chewy" texture, than does talapia, and is also slightly more "fishy" in its taste, but maybe talapia would work too, as sheepshead are hard to find in Arizona.

                                                                                                                                                      If I can find that NOLA "Talipia Challenge," I will post a link. Think that it was about 5 years ago?


                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Bill Hunt
                                                                                                                                                        fldhkybnva Feb 26, 2013 06:03 PM

                                                                                                                                                        Is this it? http://m.bgdailynews.com/mobile/news/...

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: fldhkybnva
                                                                                                                                                          Bill Hunt Feb 26, 2013 07:29 PM

                                                                                                                                                          That could well have been the "preliminary," to the next level.

                                                                                                                                                          Thank you, and hope that he won!


                                                                                                                                                    2. re: groogle
                                                                                                                                                      mcf Feb 26, 2013 01:07 PM

                                                                                                                                                      You can have mine.

                                                                                                                                                      Unless it's farmed in the U.S. or Ecuador, it's pretty bad, IMO. Raised in filth and muddy/swampy tasting. I won't eat it.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: mcf
                                                                                                                                                        groogle Feb 26, 2013 01:12 PM

                                                                                                                                                        Hmmm...my tilapia did not taste muddy. Tasted pretty good, actually.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: mcf
                                                                                                                                                          fldhkybnva Feb 26, 2013 01:17 PM

                                                                                                                                                          So you've noticed a distinct difference with tilapia from US or Ecuador? I will have to check but I think that the tilapia I bought is from Ecuador so perhaps maybe worth a shot to try it out.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: fldhkybnva
                                                                                                                                                            mcf Feb 27, 2013 07:47 AM

                                                                                                                                                            Nope, I don't eat it. But many others have, in past threads. I just know that Ecuadorean and U.S. fish farms are known to be operated under better conditions.

                                                                                                                                                        2. re: groogle
                                                                                                                                                          CCSPRINGS Mar 21, 2013 11:55 AM

                                                                                                                                                          You chose low grade fish.

                                                                                                                                                        3. alliegator Feb 26, 2013 09:04 AM

                                                                                                                                                          This is why I buy tilapia. You need a lot of fish if you want to make these for even a few people, and tilapia works just fine.

                                                                                                                                                          1. C. Hamster Feb 26, 2013 01:04 PM

                                                                                                                                                            No one should ever buy frozen Tilapia.

                                                                                                                                                            Nearly all frozen tilapia comes from Asia.

                                                                                                                                                            make sure you absolutely know the source of the tilapia you buy.

                                                                                                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                            1. re: C. Hamster
                                                                                                                                                              fldhkybnva Feb 26, 2013 01:08 PM

                                                                                                                                                              What sources would you recommend?

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: C. Hamster
                                                                                                                                                                groogle Feb 26, 2013 01:10 PM

                                                                                                                                                                What's wrong with buying tilapia from Asia? I thought it was pretty good. So is swai. Both species are sustainable, unlike what happened to cod.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: groogle
                                                                                                                                                                  Bacardi1 Feb 27, 2013 07:27 AM

                                                                                                                                                                  Because the "standards", such as they are, for raising/farming fish in Asia aren't even remotely hygienic. The fish are raised under filthy overcrowded conditions & fed questionable diets - frequently laced with all sorts of drugs/antibiotics to counteract the conditions.

                                                                                                                                                                  Do a websearch.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Bacardi1
                                                                                                                                                                    mcf Feb 27, 2013 07:48 AM

                                                                                                                                                                    And chemical pollutants, IIRC.

                                                                                                                                                              2. Bill Hunt Feb 26, 2013 05:54 PM

                                                                                                                                                                The first time that I had (that I knew of) talapia, was at Disney World Epcot Center. Their attraction "The Seas," or similar name, had a near-by restaurant (and a talapia pond on the attraction), that featured the fish. I only had the "pan-fried," and found it quite good. I can only assume that it probably came from the same tank, that we had just toured?


                                                                                                                                                                1. Charles Yu Jun 27, 2013 11:07 AM

                                                                                                                                                                  No positive reason I can think of except for the price.

                                                                                                                                                                  Have been avoiding Tilapia AND Basa big time! Dislike the way they are farmed, dislike their 'muddy' taste and dislike the way they are prone to habour parasites!
                                                                                                                                                                  Many reported cases of patrons eating Tilapia sushi/sashimi in cheap places, thinking they are being served Tai or Snapper, and got hit by the 'bugs'!

                                                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Charles Yu
                                                                                                                                                                    CCSPRINGS Jun 28, 2013 08:44 AM

                                                                                                                                                                    Tilapia are a sushi impersonator. Goodness! What a nightmare!

                                                                                                                                                                    I would feed tilapia to a cat if I had one. No other suitable purpose I can think of.

                                                                                                                                                                    Stuff is gross. It is so entrenched in the mainstream that it is here to stay. Shame people are willing to eat low quality fish under the premise that it is cheap protein.

                                                                                                                                                                  2. s
                                                                                                                                                                    sdietzer Jun 27, 2013 05:05 PM

                                                                                                                                                                    I like tilapia because it is so versatile. It really soaks up the flavor of marinades. Also, there are so many ways you can cook it, like grilling, frying, smoking, baking, etc..

                                                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: sdietzer
                                                                                                                                                                      mcookie Jun 28, 2013 09:38 AM

                                                                                                                                                                      Same. I like Tilapia because it's inexpensive ($7 for two filets at Whole Foods) and it's mild. I stopped eating chicken a few years ago and Tilapia became my go to because of the price first and because I can season it with anything and have a satisfying meal. I eat a lot of other fish and shellfish and for the most part my husband and I try to do something different each night with a steak once a week (or once every other week) but I don't get the tilapia hate. I read that it's a disgusting mud skipping fish and I've read at length the differences between wild vs farmed fish and no matter what there are pros and cons to both. All I can do is the best I can do in the moment and I choose to eat farmed tilapia from whole foods (or a friends fish store but WF is closer) at least once or twice a week.

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