Tilapia with Pimiento Sauce

Tilapia, a tasty farm-raised fish originally from Africa, has become more and more popular here in the states. I recently brought home a whole tilapia from our local Asian fish market and made quite a mess of trying to fillet it myself. Dad pitched in, with no more luck than I, and we ended up throwing the pieces (you couldn’t quite call them fillets anymore) into a fish stew. Now we know better. Just buy the straight fillets. Tilapia are mild tasting, and relatively inexpensive compared to other fish. Here is a quick and easy, one-pan way of preparing this versatile fish.

Tilapia with Pimiento Sauce Recipe

  • Yield: Serves 4.

Feel free to use any tender white fish fillet with this recipe, for example cod or red snapper.

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, cut into thin wedges
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 cup sliced cremini or button mushrooms
  • 3/4 cup pimiento-stuffed olives, coarsely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh oregano or 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 4 6-8 ounce tilapia fillets

Method

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1 In a large skillet heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onions and cook until tender, about 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about a minute more. Add tomatoes, mushrooms, olives, oregano, salt, and pepper. Bring sauce to boiling.

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2 Gently place the fish fillets in the pan and scoop some of the sauce over the fillets. Return to boiling. Reduce the heat and cover. Simmer for 8 to 10 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. With a wide spatula, lift fish from skillet to a serving dish. Spoon sauce over fish. Serve with rice, and/or crusty bread.

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Adapted from a recipe in Better Homes and Gardens.

32 Comments

  1. lydia

    This looks delicious — and oh so healthy. I’m into fish and fennel these days, so might add a bit of fresh fennel to this dish.

  2. Cris

    Elise, these are so popular here in Brazil, nice recipe… You can also roll it, fill it with a ricotta pesto and bake it… I always add fresh lime juice.

  3. Kim

    This looks great. Tilapia is a delicate white fish. I think it is similar to sole. It is readily available at Trader Joe’s. It is sustainable, since it is a freshwater farmed fish, although I assume it does not have the same health qualities as deep ocean fish. But it makes it a wonderful choice for fish lovers! I also like to coat it with lemon juice mixed with olive oil and top it with a mixture of panko bread crumbs and ground macadamia nuts, and bake for 30 minutes at 350.

  4. Sally Han

    This is such a versatile recipe — definitely one of my favorites! I add chorizo, capers and red pepper flakes to mine. I don’t usually add salt since the chorizo, capers and olives have enough sodium to flavor the dish. This works well with chicken too!

    Love the site — keep up the great work!

  5. lynnmarie777

    We had this for dinner tonight WE LOVE IT! Very mild fish. It would be great even without the fish!

  6. Manisha

    I’ve been eating tilapia since my childhood days in Kenya. The tilapia in the US is not as flavorful as what I ate growing up. Neverthelss, it’s a great fish and we have it at least once a week. I make fish curry and/or shallow fry it after marinating it with ginger, garlic, turmeric pwd, cayenne pwd and lemon juice and rolling it in either breadcrumbs or farina.

    This is a recipe that would be a wonderful change from our weekly routine!

  7. Lori

    I made this recipe last night for dinner and it was just delicious!! I’d never eaten Tilapia before and was surprised to see my grocer had it. The presentation of this dish is also spectacular, so it would be a wonderful dinner to serve company! I didn’t change a thing in the recipe and will definitely make it again and again!

  8. Jonathan

    Love Tilapia; being Chinese, we frequently steam a whole, fresh one straight from the market with ginger, scallions, soy sauce and top it with hot oil. The sauce is fabulous for drenching white rice in, and the meat comes out succulent and fragrant!

  9. Kerri

    I made this for dinner tonight and it came out supremely good! This is a perfect recipe for tilapia.

  10. Jenn

    I make this dish quite frequently and enjoy it, always! Plus it is very easy to make. The last time we made the dish we used a can of fire-roasted spicy diced tomatos and it added a really nice spice to the dish.

  11. Sarah

    Made this dish last night for a light low-carb dinner and it worked really well. Don’t generally like dishes that can be a little bit overpowered by olives so reduced the amount in the recipe a little and it was still very nice. The Tilapia also is super fish that isn’t too flaky at all. Will definately make again.

  12. n8

    I am definitely trying this tonight but…

    My favorite tilapia recipe is:
    Sauté tilapia in a little oil with salt/pepper and a healthy dose of garam masala (spicy spice found pretty much anywhere), remove fillets, keeping crumblies from fish in the pan, add 1 can diced tomatoes w/ chiles, some cilantro, and more garam masala. Cook for a few minutes then serve over fish over rice. Mix up some lemon juice and cilantro in plain yogurt to take away the heat.

  13. Wendy

    OMG! There is soo much tilapia and other fish here in Canada, at least in Montreal there is. I find it odd that some weren’t able to find it. Anyhow this is a great recipe and its soo easy to make. I didn’t have mushrooms or olives so I replaced that with capers and added a little bit of white wine for extra taste. It turned out great! This will become a regular! Might try it with Halibut next time, Thank you Elise!

  14. cherie

    I love this dish. So easy, you can’t go wrong with tilapia.

  15. Leisureguy

    One problem with farmed tilapia is that it has very low levels of omega-3 and very high levels of omega-6. Much the same is true of farmed catfish, the culprit in both cases being the feed (mostly grain). Wild fish (including sardines, herrings, and other prey fish) are high in omega-3 and low in omega-6. Check out this article in Science Daily from last year.

    I find it easy to eat quite a bit of fish without eating tilapia or catfish.

  16. FSK

    Elise : Nice post. Tilapia is a wonderfully versatile fish and used a lot in India too..since it has a mild flavor it goes great with light fresh sides. It tastes great pan fried and served with mango salsa.

  17. Soma

    Lovely Recipe. We have Tilapia quite often, atleast 3 times a week.. sometimes just gril it, sometimes tandoor & sometimes curry. This is a real simple flavorful recipe, sure to give it a try!

  18. Joyti

    I tried this dish with some capers and smoked Spanish paprika added, side of basmati rice – turned out really well and was so quick.

  19. Darren

    Tilapia is a tasty fish but be aware that it is high in omega 6 fatty acids relative to omega 3. I mention this because my mother has rheumatoid arthritis and high amounts of omega 6 can promote inflammation. Most people probably won’t have a problem but others may.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Omega_6

    This looks like a quite tasty recipe. I may try it with striped bass

  20. Ursula

    Yay! I’m always looking for a tasty alternative to breaded tilapia. And this is something that my very finicky husband should enjoy!

    To the previous poster, someone suggested to soak tilapia in plain milk with a dash or two of tabasco to get any “funk” out.

  21. Matt

    Nice recipe. Thanks for digging it out of the archives.

    I made it for dinner this evening, as the local market had Tilapia on sale. Served it over whole-wheat couscous, with some roasted saffron-scented cauliflower.

    Very delicious, everyone thought.

  22. Joanna

    I read your blog almost every day, and I love it! I also plan to make several of your recipes – they all look so good! I made this one last night, and my family loved it! :)
    Thank you for sharing your family recipes, and I hope that once my husband and I have a family of our own, we can share some of these with our family as well. :)

  23. sexy me

    OMG! This was so good. I shared it with my co-worker and we made it again the same night and her family loved it. We will make it again and again. My family enjoyed it so much they were upset I didn’t make enough to have leftovers. Now it’s one of my favorite meals. Thanks.

  24. Marita

    I agree with elizabethk about the taste of tilapia, but I think of it as a muddy taste. I’ve tried cooking it twice and neither my husband or I could finish the meal either time – and we’re normally big fish eaters. I’ve been tempted to try tilapia in a restaurant to see if the flavor was better, but I’m afraid to waste an entire meal out.

    However the recipe sounds great, and I’m sure could be cooked with most mild white fish – sole, catfish, etc.

  25. Steve K

    What a concidence – I saw this recipe today after trying something similar for dinner last night. One thing I did a little different was adding about a teaspoon of smoked Spanish paprika and juice from 1 lemon to the sauce. I didn’t add olives, either, although it sounds like a great addition.

  26. AG Wright

    I am a person who has grown up eating fresh fish, usually caught by myself or a family member, and in recent years fishing has just not been something that I have been doing it’s nice to have a fish that is so inexpensive and easy to fix.
    While I can’t always find fresh tilapia, it’s always available frozen, which while it isn’t the best is still quite good tasting and quite healthful.
    My usual marinade is soy sauce, garlic, maple syrup or brown sugar for a little sweetness and some red wine vinegar. I put it in a bag and let it sit for a while and then grill it.
    However this recipe is something that I am definitely going to try.

    AG

  27. Sammy

    First to Elise–thank you for such a beautiful and inspiring site. I have been a reader since 2004 but have never ventured away from the computer to the kitchen. Now that I have my own place, I’m teaching myself to cook.

    I made this dish last night. It was my first time cooking tilapia. I agree with previous posters that the fish definitely had a bit of a “funky” flavor. The sauce was really nice though, would definitely try it again using a different fish.

  28. Christine

    This is great! Tastes absolutely fantastic!

  29. tina

    This was great. I changed it a little. I used flounder and tomato sauce. Very good recipe. Thank you. :-)

  30. tre

    tried this recipe and well…. i now know that all recipes aren’t doing to be good for everyone. lol. My sister and mother didn’t like this recipe and specifically the Olives one bit.

  31. elizabethk

    I will definitely be trying this, it looks wonderful. I buy tilapia all the time – but really (really) dislike the flavor it imparts to the entire dish. I have attempted to soak it in buttermilk — but I can always taste that funky flavor. Maybe using lots of lemon or curry would help. I am a total seafood gal, so it is unusual that I have issues with this fish ;-)

    That’s weird, perhaps your source of tilapia is not getting them fresh enough? Tilapia should have a mild flavor. Sometimes I think it can taste a little “muddy” if it’s cooked skin-on, or isn’t perfectly fresh. ~Elise

  32. Karen

    I really like the texture of tilapia, but recently there were some concerns about fish coming from China which is where all the tilapia seems to come from (at least at my grocery store).

    Does anyone have any more current information about fish coming out of China?

    Seafood Watch from the Monterey Bay Aquarium recommends that you buy tilapia raised in the US, not China where pollution is a problem. ~Elise

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