What Is a Tilapia Fillet?

David Bishop
David Bishop
Fresh tilapia fillets.
Fresh tilapia fillets.

A tilapia is a freshwater fish commonly raised in Africa and Asia as a food source. Its mild flavor and low mercury content has made tilapia a popular choice for dinner tables around the world. This fish can be served whole but is often cut into skinless, boneless filets that are frozen and shipped to grocery stores. A tilapia fillet can be prepared and served using a variety of methods, including broiling, grilling and sauteing.

These fish are native to freshwater areas in Africa and the Middle East. Its popularity as a food fish means it is now raised in fish farms all over the globe. Over time, tilapia has become of the most important commercially raised fish in many areas.

Consumers can usually find tilapia in the frozen food section of their grocery store or from a fish monger. These fillets have typically been processed to remove any skin or bones from the fish, but the cook may wish to briefly inspect the tilapia fillet for any bones before serving. Frozen fillets are often individually packaged and must be defrosted before using. Some filets sold as fresh tilapia may have been frozen before being defrosted in the store and displayed on ice at the seafood counter.

Many consumers enjoy tilapia for its mild flavor, which is usually less “fishy” than many other types of seafood. Even picky eaters can often enjoy a well-prepared tilapia. The fish can be cooked with basic seasonings or served along with various sauces. Many traditional recipes for fresh or saltwater fish fillets can be adapted for a tilapia fillet.

Tilapia can be prepared using a number of methods. One popular technique is to coat the fillet in a batter and then saute or pan fry it until done. It also can be seasoned and baked or broiled in an oven. More ambitious cooks can try to grill the tilapia fillet, which will add a considerable amount of flavor but can be difficult because of the delicate flesh's tendency to stick to the grilling surface. Many grill owners purchase special fish holders or planks to help avoid this issue.

The tilapia should be cooked until the flesh is no longer translucent and flakes easily with a fork. These are typically fairly thin cuts of fish and must be watched closely to avoid overcooking. A perfectly cooked tilapia fillet should be moist, tender and flavorful.

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    • Fresh tilapia fillets.
      By: nito
      Fresh tilapia fillets.