Tilapia

Species Information

Tilapia are one of the most popular fish in restaurants and at retail fish counters. They have a long history of feeding pharaohs and kings. According to legend, they were the fish Jesus multiplied to feed the masses at the Sea of Galilee.

Tilapia inhabit a variety of fresh and, less commonly, brackish water from shallow streams and ponds to rivers, lakes, and estuaries. Most tilapias are omnivorous with a preference for soft aquatic vegetation.

Commonly known as St. Peter's fish, tilapia are the most common farm-raised in the South and West.

Cooking & Handling

Refrigerate for up to 2 days after purchase. Defrost frozen fillets in the refrigerator overnight.

Tilapia is low in sodium. It is also a good source of niacin and phosphorus, and a very good source of protein, vitamin B12 and selenium.

Tilapia is extremely versatile but the delicate flavor should not be overpowered with strong compliments. Though attractive, the skin of the tilapia should be removed, because it can have a bitter taste.

Flavors that work well with tilapia are almond, dill, lemon, lime, mustard, olives, orange, parsley, pecan, pistachio, red onion, shallot, tangerine, tarragon, thyme, tomato, walnut and wine white.

Cooking Methods

Bake, Broil, Sauté, Steam

Global Supply

Africa, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Honduras, Indonesia, Jamaica, Thailand

Seasonal Availability

Fresh and frozen available year-round.

Did You Know?

Water quality and feed are critical to raising premium tilapia. Poor quality results in an off-flavor or a muddy, grassy taste.

Tilapia fillets are usually available in graded sizes of 3–5 oz, 5–7 oz (most common) and 7–9 oz.

Nile tilapia, known as nilotica or black tilapia, has dark skin. Mozambique tilapia, or red tilapia, has reddish skin.

Scientific Name

Tilapia spp.

Market Name

Tilapia

Common Names

St. Peter's fish, sunfish

Substitutions

Catfish, flounder, orange roughy

Raw Characteristics

  • attractive skin – gold, red or black and white
  • pinkish-white to white flesh
  • lean meat
  • market weight 1–2 lbs

Cooked Characteristics

  • mild, sweet tasting
  • white meat
  • flaky, tender
  • slightly firm texture
  • skin should be removed
  • thin layer of darker meat just below skin is often removed

Pronunciations

French: tilapia
German: nil-buntbarch
Italian: tilapia
Japanese: telapia
Spanish: tilapia