Tilapia is a whitefish with a mild flavor that even those who don't care for fish will enjoy. Unlike heavy fish with bold flavors, such as tuna and salmon, you can season tilapia with any seasoning or fruit and vegetable combination and the light fish enhances rather than competes with the flavors. This fish is even easier to prepare when paired with every busy cook's favorite kitchen appliance: a Crock-Pot. Tilapia flakes easily, so use aluminum foil to keep the fish intact so that it doesn't fall apart as you remove it from the Crock-Pot, which results in moist, flavorful fish.
Things You'll Need
- Aluminum foil
- Meat thermometer
Lay out a separate piece of foil for each fish fillet on a flat work surface, using a piece of foil about three times the size of the fish fillet. Fish fillets are easy to cook, and each person ends up with his own foil-wrapped meal, but you can just as easily cook a whole fish in foil if the Crock-Pot is large enough.
Season both sides of the tilapia fillets, using dry spices such as salt and pepper. Place one fillet on the center of each piece of foil.
Top the fish with your choice of ingredients to cook along with the fish, such as sliced onions and pepper, chunks of pineapple and mango, or tomato and basil. You can use a combination of fruits, vegetables, wet and dry ingredients to adapt the fish to any type of cuisine. Try garlic, ginger, honey and teriyaki sauce over onions and peppers for an Asian influence, or top with hot sauce and salsa for a Mexican-style dish. Use simple olive oil to accent a tomato and basil fish dish. You can crack pepper and squeeze juice from a lemon over the fish and leave the lemon in the packet to make a better lemon pepper chicken than from dry lemon pepper seasoning.
Gather the long sides of the foil above the fish and fold them down together about 1 inch. Continue folding all the way down to the fish and other ingredients. Fold each end until the foil is completely closed and well sealed. In theory, you should be able to toss the packet back and forth in your hand without any juices leaking; in real life, you probably should not test this theory.
Place the foil packets inside the Crock-Pot insert. You don't need to place them in an even layer. Place the lid on the Crock-Pot.
Cook the fish for about 2 1/2 to 3 hours on the Crock-Pot's high temperature setting, or for about 5 hours on the low temperature setting. Check the fish with a meat thermometer and remove when it reaches an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit and the flesh flakes easily with a fork. The foil packets keep the juices contained around the fish so the tilapia is cooked, via steaming or poaching if there is a high liquid content.
Tips & Warnings
- Remove the packet from the Crock-Pot and set it on a plate or cutting board. Poke the foil with a knife or fork to release the steam before you try to open the packet.
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