How people eat tilapia: an extract of the discussion (Revised version) -Dr. Magdy Saleh and Olufemi Ajiboye

Photo: Vivien Dejoux

How people eat tilapia: an extract of the discussion (Revised version) -Dr. Magdy Saleh and Olufemi Ajiboye

Patrick Kampira  In Malawi, most people prefer fried tilapia and some vegetables served with Nsima. The medium size is the one on high demand because it is fried as a whole and the vegetables are cooked and served with Nsima (Local staple meal) or with rice.

Magdy Saleh: In Egypt, medium size (200 g) is the best. We cook it whole with the inside filled with a paste of garlic hammered with salt and cumin and fried in oil. It is served usually with red rice (rice cooked with fried onion in butter and tomato juice) and Tahini salad. This is a delicacy for people living in the city and country side. It is usually grilled on fire ( first you cover the wet body of the fresh fish with wheat bran, then you put it on an iron sheath (2 mm thick) on gas or wood fire and turn it from side to side until the bran becomes black). You can serve it with brown bread and green salad.

Chee Kiat Ng: In Malaysia, Tilapia is served mainly steamed and occasionally fried till crispy. There is a chain of restaurants which serves small / medium sized tilapia (350 – 500 g) steamed in soy sauce. Table size fishes are usually 600g to 800 g. The fish is usually taken with rice. The fish is very popular in restaurants where it is usually held alive in aquariums for display so customers get to eat fresh fish. Usually a table of 5 would share a fish which is common practice in Malaysia. Most of the Tilapia grown for sale in restaurants are the red hybrid which is basically a cross from Mossambica / Nilotica and Aurea species. We also have the GIFT strain and also the Mossambica. Generally Tilapia is enjoyed by all groups of people in Malaysia mainly Chinese, Malays and Indians. Malaysia is also a fish loving nation with one of the highest per capita consumptions as we are surrounded by water. Usually the fish is consumed in restaurants as eating out is quite a common practice among the working class in Malaysia. However even in the wet markets, most of the Tilapia sold to consumers are in the 300 – 500 g range. Tilapia is not a poor mans fish in Malaysia and is actually quite well in demand as reflected in its farm price of USD 2 – 3.00 per kg. We have only 1 company that produce significant quantity of fillet (Trapia .. a subsidiary of Genomar) which is mainly exported. Malaysians like to have the fish prepared and served whole. Fillets of fish are also available although much of it is imported; the pangasius catfish fillet from Vietnam is very popular in Malaysia because of its low price.

Rolando Gitana: In the Philippines, there are plenty of cooking variation of tilapia I can only name a few which is common in our locality. The fish size common to us is about 100-300 grams. Big size fish is being grilled, on firewood. The fish abdomen portion is filled with chopped tomatoes, onion, garlic, black pepper and salt to taste, and then wrap it with banana leaf. You have to turn it around on fire to cook it evenly. We also make a soup of tilapia by boiling it with water and adding vegetables and seasonings. We also eat it raw, like tuna “shashime”. We chop the tilapia into small pieces, wash thoroughly, put vinegar (preferably the coconut vinegar), chopped onions and garlic, black pepper and salt to taste. We also steamed, cook and fry the tilapia.

Olufemi Ajiboye (Nigeria):  Tilapia is a gastronomic delight – for both the rich and the poor. Since Tilapia is a delicate and bony fish, it is best fried, steamed, baked or broiled. In most of our restaurants, bar spots at night and hotels ..tilapia fish in hot “n” spicy pepper soup with assorted spices is always in high demand. A pack of ground pepper soup mix, 2 Tilapia (fin removed) thoroughly cleaned, cut into 3 or 4 pieces and seasoned with salt and garlic and allowed to boil together in the soup. It can also be prepared at homes as fried fish stew and served with rice.

Dey V. K : (India): Tilapia has been considered as poor man’s fish in India. In Southern states (Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh), the fish is usually consumed as curry and occasionally fried. However, in West Bengal and Orissa, it is often taken as curry but the preparation is different from Southern states. The tilapia curry is an accompaniment with rice.

Ulhas Desai (Bangladesh): I did observed the pond operators (Bangladesh natives) will first fry the Tilapia and than make curry with vegetables and it tastes good.  Indian sub continent like to eat fish with curry with spice added with turmeric.

Jun Dajay (Philippines): I have tried the crispy fried tilapia. These are small (50 grams) boneless tilapia butterfly-cut, marinated in different flavor (soya sauce and lemon or in vinegar and brown sugar with pepper) and sun dried. When cooked deep-fried in vegetable oil it is crunchy. The bones are also prepared same way. It is your choice if you prefer the bones or the flesh. The skin coming off from the tilapia fillet is also prepared as crunchy kropek (crackers) by drying, cooked or deep fried (note: there is a technique in frying to make it crunchy). It is great for munching and usually eaten with Asakpo and accompaniment with beer or whisky.

There is also the exotic bitter tilapia soup – where the fish regardless of size is cut into small strips or cubes; sauted in onions and ginger and chili, and pepper with some of its innards. Liver goes with it and cooked in boiling water to make a very tangy soup.

In Indonesia, I like the fish (200-300 grams) cooked with tomatoes, ginger, and onions wrapped in banana leaves and grilled until done.

In Malaysia, steamed Tilapia with ground lemon grass and ginger as dressing are really mouth watering.

Tilapia is prepared on barbeque-style but in a very low heat/fire for several hours. This dried the fish and prevents it from being spoiled even for several days. Just leave it hanging near the hearth at the kitchen.

 Tilapia can also be cooked within a fresh bamboo pole with coconut milk.

Tilapia raised in low salinity water usually tastes good. It is prepared as sashimi-like (filleted, skinned and cubes) sprinkled with ground onions, ginger, chilis, and mayonnaise.

Vivien Dejoux (Thailand): In Thailand, the Nile tilapia is commonly eaten salted and grilled, sometimes boiled and very often with a spicy sauce that will cover the off-flavor if present. The size is usually about 400 g per fish, sometimes bigger. Small fish have very little value. Customers are mostly low to middle earning peoples. 

Mihaela Laurenta Alexandrov (Romania):  In Romania, Tilapia is not cultivated and is not found in the environment. It is consumed in the restaurant, in most cases, as fried tilapia.

Adrian Simpson (Thailand):  In Thailand, locally raised black tilapia is very popular and usually cook at home and eat in restaurants. I often see it fried whole at high temperature and then coated with a separately cooked “3 flavours” sauce, sweet and spicy which masks any musty/muddy flavors. 

In the USA, the fillet was cut freshly by hand from a whole GG chilled fish (‘red’ tilapia) by a fishmonger in a local wet market. These were marinated in olive oil and mixed herbs then baked on a medium heat for 15 minutes…Mediterranean style. This style of preparation is very acceptable for the western palate. 

Gordon Hayes (Canada) • Hello everyone.I have been reading and sitting on the sidelines for a while from Calgary Alberta Canada. I am a breeder of TIlapia and an Aquaponics junkie.

My favorite recipe for my family is the Tilapia Taco.

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons lime zest
1 1/2 teaspoons honey
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon seafood seasoning
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce, or to taste
1 pound tilapia fillets, cut into chunks

To make the marinade, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, lime juice, lime zest, honey, garlic, cumin, chili powder, seafood seasoning, black pepper, and hot sauce in a bowl until blended. Place the tilapia in a shallow dish, and pour the marinade over the fish. Cover, and refrigerate 6 to 8 hours.

1 (8 ounce) container light sour cream
1/2 cup adobo sauce from chipotle peppers
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons lime zest
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon seafood seasoning
salt and pepper to taste

To make the dressing, combine the sour cream and adobo sauce in a bowl. Stir in the lime juice, lime zest, cumin, chili powder, seafood seasoning. Add salt, and pepper in desired amounts. Cover, and refrigerate until needed.

1 (10 ounce) package tortillas
3 ripe tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
1 small head cabbage, cored and shredded
2 limes, cut in wedges

To make the dressing, combine the sour cream and adobo sauce in a bowl. Stir in the lime juice, lime zest, cumin, chili powder, seafood seasoning. Add salt, and pepper in desired amounts. Cover, and refrigerate until needed.

Preheat an outdoor grill for high heat and lightly oil grate. Set grate 4 inches from the heat. (this recipe can also be cooked in the oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Bake fish in preheated oven until it easily flakes with a fork, 9 to 11 minutes.)

Remove fish from marinade, drain off any excess and discard marinade. Grill fish pieces until easily flaked with a fork, turning once, about 9 minutes.

Assemble tacos by placing fish pieces in the center of tortillas with desired amounts of tomatoes, cilantro, and cabbage; drizzle with dressing. To serve, roll up tortillas around fillings, and garnish with lime wedges.

I also have to point out that I do not get the muddy tastes of off smells from TIlapia by using an aquaponics system that people keep talking about. It seems that the growbeds do a very good job of removing the wastes that build up in the flesh of the fish causing the problems.

M. Gulam Hussain (Bangladesh): In Bangladesh, known as a fish and rice eating nation in South East Asia, fried tilapia with mild hot curry alone or with various vegetables are very common. Recently, grilled tilapia is also gaining popularity among the young people as BBQ item.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Magdy Saleh says:


    On Sat, Apr 27, 2019 at 12:33 AM Tilapia Lover Society wrote:

    > Olufemi O. Ajiboye posted: ” Photo: Vivien Dejoux How people eat tilapia, > an extract of the discussion -Dr. Magdy Saleh and Olufemi Ajiboye Patrick > Kampira in Malawi, mostly people prefer fried tilapia and some vegetables > served with Nsima. The medium size is the one ” >

    Liked by 1 person

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