Tilapia: What kind of fish is it? And how to cook it?

From frying it, grilling it to cooking it in the oven

Tilapia is a very popular farmed fish. This freshwater fish makes few demands on its environment and food and is therefore easy to breed.

The fish has a neutral taste and firm fish meat that’s easy to cook. It’s also perfect to use in all kinds of recipes.

Tilapia can also be cooked in many ways. You can cook it in the oven, on the barbecue, fry it, and so on. Read more about this delectable fish in this blog.

Tilapia fillets

Table of contents

Chapter 1

What kind of fish is tilapia?

Tilapia is a freshwater fish that somewhat resembles a bass. This fish has a dark brown-greenish color with darker blue-black vertical bands. However, there are different tilapia species, so you can also encounter tilapias with, for example, a reddish or gray-black color. This herbivore grows up to 60 cm long and feels at home almost anywhere.

You will find this fish in freshwater, saltwater and even brackish water. Although the fish is originally a herbivore with mainly plankton on the menu, it can become omnivorous when the need is high. In such a situation, he eats everything that can feed him.

Because of the friendly price and the beautiful fish meat, many consumers see the tilapia as an alternative to the increasingly expensive cod. This fish is also popular because there is actually no tilapia season. It’s available all year round.

Chapter 2

Where does the fish come from?

Tilapia originally comes from the African continent, down to a depth of 20 meters. Most tilapia fillets, whether fresh or frozen, come from Africa.

However, over the years this fish has been released in other parts of the world. Because tilapia is widely cultivated, you can now also find it in other countries, such as China, the Philippines, Thailand, Taiwan and Indonesia. Even in the Netherlands and Belgium, tilapia is grown on a modest scale.

Chapter 3

What does tilapia taste like?

Tilapia has a firm meat, contains no bones and has a mild flavor. It does not have a pronounced “fishy flavor”.

This fish is extremely versatile. You can pan-fry tilapia, grill it, and so on. To enjoy it even more, you can marinate the tilapia before you cook it.

Chapter 4

Is it healthy?

Because tilapia is rich in proteins, but contains few calories, fats and carbohydrates, it’s a healthy fish. Its meat is a source of sustainable proteins. That’s why tilapia fillet is perfect for a healthy and balanced diet.

Some farmed tilapia fish are genetically engineered without artificial intervention. The light and temperature of the living environment are adjusted to stimulate the natural behavior of the fish.

Because farmers take these elements into account, they continue to keep the tilapia line as healthy as possible. Thanks to the applied techniques, disease prevention, nutrient conversion and growth speed are also perfected. People, animals and the environment benefit from this.

Chapter 5

Food & wine

Tilapia can be paired with various types of wine. However, because this fish has a fairly neutral taste, it goes well with light, smooth white wines.

For example, think of a Riesling and Chenin Blanc. Because tilapia is a lean fish, you can also drink a Pinot Grigio white wine with it. This wine is also very tasty.

Chapter 6

How to cook tilapia?

Tilapia contains a lot of high-quality proteins and omega-3 fatty acids and is cooked quickly.

This white fish with a light texture is low in fat. You can cook it in many ways. For example, you can cook it in the oven and on the grill. You can also make ceviche by marinating the fish with lime juice and refrigerating it. You don’t cook the fish, but the acid in the marinade ensures that it cooks in the refrigerator.


Before you cook the fish, clean it first. To clean the tilapia, use a blunt knife or spoon to remove the scales.

Then you make a shallow incision from the tail to the head, after which you remove the organs from the fish with your fingers or a spoon. After this, use lime juice, lemon juice or vinegar to wash the fish.

If desired, you can also clean the fish by rinsing it under running water. After this you can pat it dry with kitchen paper and cut it into pieces.


Filleting a tilapia is also relatively easy. You first make a cut behind the top of the head until you hit the spine. Then pull the cut further through, in an arc around the head of the fish.

You then turn the knife and cut horizontally towards the tail, right through the middle of the tilapia. Do the same on the other side of the fish.

You then raise the ribcage on the inside of the tilapia fillet and remove it. Alternatively, you can also cut straight through the fish to make “steaks”.

Frying it in a pan

You can pan-fry tilapia. Use a frying pan or wok for this.

  1. First rinse the tilapia fillets with cold water and then pat them dry with kitchen paper.
  2. Season them with salt and pepper.
  3. Then coat the fish fillets with flour. Shake off the excess flour.
  4. Heat olive oil in a large frying pan or wok on a medium heat.
  5. When the oil is hot, fry the tilapia until the meat flakes easily. This process can take about 4 minutes per side.
  6. For an extra flavor, just before removing the tilapia fillets from the frying pan, you can brush melted butter over the fish.
  7. You can now serve the delicious, fried tilapia fillets. If desired, squeeze a teaspoon of lemon juice before serving.

Grilling on the barbecue

You can also safely grill tilapia on the barbecue. First wrap this fish in slices of ham.

  1. First you make the marinade with the desired herbs and spices.
  2. Then place the tilapia fillets or whole tilapia fish in the marinade for about 30 minutes. Make sure that the fish is at room temperature and you cover the container.
  3. Meanwhile, light the barbecue.
  4. When the fish is marinated, remove it from the marinade and drain it.
  5. You always put a tilapia fillet or whole tilapia in the middle of a slice of ham and fold the ham around the fish.
  6. Secure the ham and tilapia fillets with a cocktail stick. Then you brush the ham with the rest of the marinade.
  7. Finally, grill the tilapia for about 4 minutes per side until the ham is crispy and the fish is cooked through.
  8. You can garnish the dish with rosemary if desired.

In the oven

Another delicious way to cook tilapia is in the oven.

  1. First, preheat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius.
  2. While the oven is heating up, grease a glass baking dish with a little olive oil.
  3. Then place the cleaned, washed and dried tilapia fillets in the oven dish.
  4. Stir melted butter and olive oil in a bowl and spread this mixture over the tilapia fillets with a brush.
  5. Also add other ingredients such as finely chopped garlic, sea salt and pepper over the tilapia.
  6. Let the fish cook in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes.
  7. You can now serve it.

Chapter 7

Recipe: Oven baked tilapia with a herb crust

Geen beoordelingen

Oven baked tilapia with a herb crust

A delicious tilapia from the oven covered in a herb crust and served with a pearl couscous salad.
Prep time10 minutes
Cooking time30 minutes
Servings: 4 persons
Author: Cultiviz


  • 4 pieces tilapia fillet
  • 300 gr pearl couscous
  • ½ zucchini
  • 1 red pointed pepper
  • 250 gr cherry tomatoes
  • 2 sprigs mint fresh
  • 100 gr feta cheese
  • 4 tbsp herbal oil
  • ½ lime
  • black pepper freshly grounded
  • salt

For the herb crust

  • 75 gr panko or breadcrumbs
  • 75 gr butter soft
  • 1 shallot chopped
  • 1 clove garlic finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp green olives finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp flat-leaf parsley finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp capers
  • ¼ lime juice and zest
  • pepper freshly grounded
  • salt


  • Preheat the oven at 180 degrees.
  • Place the cherry tomatoes in an oven dish, drizzle with a little bit of herb oil and season with salt and pepper. Place in the oven and pop for about 15 minutes.
  • Bring a large pan of water to a boil with a good pinch of salt and cook the pearl couscous according to the instructions on the package. Drain and let it steam out well.
  • Cut the zucchini into fine cubes and fry briefly in a drop of oil until it starts to change colour. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Mix the couscous with the roasted cherry tomatoes and the oil from the oven dish. Add the zucchini and the finely chopped pointed pepper and grater the lime zest. Squeeze in the lime juice.
  • Finely chop the mint leaves and crumble the feta cheese. Mix with the pearl couscous and season with the herb oil, salt and pepper.
  • Mix all ingredients for the herb crust in a bowl until it is homogeneous and season it with salt and pepper.
  • Place the tilapia fillets on a baking tray and season generously with salt and pepper. Divide the herb crust on top of it and press flat to distribute evenly. Place in the preheated oven and turn on the grill. Do not place the baking tray too close to the grill and let it roast nicely and become crispy in about 10 minutes. Check whether the tilapia fillets are just cooked.
  • Divide the pearl couscous on 4 plates and carefully place the tilapia fillet on top. Drizzle some more herb oil on top of it.

Chapter 8

All recipes

Looking for more inspiration? Then see below more recipes with tilapie. Or check our fish recipes for even more inspiration.

Oven baked tilapia with a herb crust

In this recipe we prepare the tilapia in the oven with a herb crust. We [...]