How to Cook Tilapia With Coconut


The mild flavor of tilapia makes it a suitable fish for pairing with practically any flavor combination. The white fish takes on a slightly sweet, nutty flavor when cooked with a coconut flake crust, using fresh or packaged, shredded coconut. You can bake the coconut-coated tilapia to make it healthy or fry it in oil to make a crispy crust and added flavor but with extra calories. Try coconut tilapia with other tropical flavors, such as a mango-based salsa or rice cooked with sweet coconut milk in place of water.

Things You'll Need

  • Paper towels
  • Flour
  • Egg
  • Milk
  • Shredded coconut
  • Bread crumbs
  • Baking pan
  • Skillet
  • Oil
  • Digital meat thermometer
  • Defrost the tilapia and pat away any excess water with paper towels.

  • Roll the tilapia in flour until evenly coated, using coconut flour or all-purpose flour.

  • Dredge the flour-coated tilapia in a mixture of beaten egg diluted with a bit of milk to make it easier to coat the tilapia. The flour absorbs the egg mixture and keeps it on the fish.

  • Roll the egg-dipped tilapia in a mixture of equal parts unsweetened shredded coconut and your choice of bread crumbs. Use bread crumbs made from toasted bread or Japanese-style panko. Coat the tilapia thoroughly with the coconut mixture, and shake off any excess.

  • Bake the tilapia on a baking tray, or fry it in hot oil in a skillet until the coconut coating is golden brown and the internal temperature of the fish reaches 145 degrees Fahrenheit. It only takes a few minutes for each side to fry the coconut tilapia to the desired temperature, but it takes about 20 minutes when baked in an oven set at about 400 F. Cook times also vary, depending on the thickness of the tilapia filets, so check the temperature with an instant-read digital meat thermometer rather than relying on time or color as an indication of doneness.

Tips & Warnings

  • You can add other seasonings to the coconut bread coating as desired. Try squeezing some fresh lime juice over the coconut breading, or mix salt and pepper with the mixture before coating the fish.
  • While vegetable oil and peanut oil are commonly used for frying fish and other foods, coconut oil also has a high heat tolerance that makes it suitable for frying tilapia.

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