What Flavors Pair With Tilapia?


From basil to zucchini, there is an almost endless list of flavors that pair well with tilapia. Tilapia is a flaky whitefish with a mild and somewhat sweet taste. While on the bland side, the fish is highly versatile when it comes to flavor pairings. Tilapia is found in recipes from around the globe and works just as well in one as it does in the next.

Asian-Style Flavors

  • Pair tilapia with typical Asian ingredients to give the fish an exotic twist. Sprinkle the fish with soy sauce and lemon pepper, then bake, for a simple dish that pairs well with rice or rice noodles. Dust poached tilapia with ginger powder, curry powder and garlic salt to give the fish a complicated taste with a mild bite. Serve the dish over cashew rice and garnish with sesame seeds for a hint of nutty sweet flavor. Drizzle teriyaki sauce over cooked fish pieces and toss with lightly sauteed water chestnuts, bok choy, bamboo shoots and green onions for a sweet stir-fry that works well over rice or noodles.

Tropical-Style Flavors

  • Sweet flavors, from mild to powerful, are a common theme for many tropical fish recipes. Drizzle pan-seared tilapia with mango salsa and serve over a brown and wild rice mix for a sweet meal with an earthy twist. Dredge the fish in breadcrumbs, shredded coconut and ginger powder, and then deep-fry the tilapia, for a nutty dish that pairs well with white rice. Shred cooked tilapia and mix with dried cilantro, garlic powder, black beans, green onions, water chestnuts and crushed pineapple for a colorful salad with a little tang.

Italian-Style Flavors

  • Garlic and mixed herbs are the hallmark flavors in many Italian fish dishes. Dust baked tilapia with garlic powder, onion salt, dried basil, dried parsley and dried oregano to give it a basic Italian flair that pairs well with any pasta. Drizzle marinara sauce over pan-fried tilapia and serve over sautéed baby squash, baby eggplant and zucchini for a tangy dish that’s rich in vegetables. Sprinkle the cooked fish with grated Parmesan cheese, grated mozzarella cheese, diced sun-dried tomatoes, roasted garlic powder, dried parsley and dried rosemary to create a cheesy dish that works well over tricolor pasta, such as bow tie.

Cajun-Style Flavors

  • Think spicy and complicated when it comes to pairing tilapia with Cajun flavors. Dredge tilapia in a breadcrumb, cayenne pepper powder, ground white pepper, ground black pepper, dried parsley and dried thyme mixture, then deep-fry the fish to create a spicy dish with crunch. Serve the dish with black-eyed peas and Spanish rice to help mellow out the spicy flavor. Sprinkle blackened tilapia with chili powder, ground cumin and hot paprika for a fiery meal that pairs well with garlicky red beans or plain rice. Dust poached tilapia with ground cumin and ground red pepper and serve the fish over a sweet corn, diced jalapeno and diced tomato salad for a refreshing dish with a hot bite.

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