Contrary to what many busy moms think, you can prepare a delicious, nutritious home-cooked meal in minutes, especially if you have frozen tilapia on hand. Lemon pepper seasonings are a crowd-pleaser, and nothing could be easier than baking or pan-frying fish fillets. Add a tasty side dish and you'll have no-fuss home-cooked meal in no time.
1. Versatile Tilapia
Cooking frozen tilapia with lemon pepper is a delicious way to feed a busy family in just minutes. Frozen tilapia fillets can be thawed easily, seasoned to individual preference, and served in a variety of ways. Cooking tilapia is easy, too, because it takes well to most cooking techniques, including a quick pan-sear and oven baking.
2. Safe Thawing Techniques
In the morning, before work or school, pull enough tilapia fillets from the freezer to feed the family. Keep individually wrapped fillets in their wrappers until it's time to season and cook them, for safety and ease of handling. Place them in a bowl or other deep container on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator to avoid drips on other foods as the fish thaws. The fish should be thawed and ready to cook by dinnertime. You may also place the fillets in the refrigerator the night before to thaw overnight. Forgot to pull fillets from the freezer? No worries. For a safe, speedy thaw, place the frozen fillets in a big bowl and fill it with cool water from the tap. Make sure there’s plenty of water surrounding every fillet. The fish should be ready to cook in less than an hour.
3. Lemon Pepper Seasonings
Lemon, salt, and pepper are a classic flavor combo for tilapia and other fish. Powdered lemon pepper blends make seasoning a snap. Each brand is different, so be sure to taste it before applying so you’ll know to use a little or a lot. For a DIY version of lemon pepper tilapia, sprinkle each fillet with salt and pepper to taste. Slice a lemon in half and squeeze it over the fish, making sure each piece gets a good drizzle.
4. Cooking Tilapia
A quick pan-fry in a healthy oil, such as olive oil, takes about 10 minutes total cook time. Pour just enough oil into a frying pan to cover the bottom, so the fish won’t stick while cooking. Avoid animal fats, such as butter or lard, to enhance the nutritional content of the meal. Cook seasoned fillets on one side until they slide around the pan when given a little jiggle, about five to seven minutes. Flip and cook on the other side until they are completely done. Bake tilapia in an oven preheated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly spray or oil a shallow baking pan or cookie sheet and place the seasoned tilapia fillets in a single layer. Let them bake about 10 minutes, then check for doneness in the thickest part of a fillet. If the meat is white and flaky, the tilapia is done. If not, return to oven and check every five minutes until it's cooked to your satisfaction.
5. Menu Ideas
Tilapia is as versatile as it is easy to cook. Use it to top your favorite dinner salad, fill a New Orleans-style po’ boy sandwich, or roll it in a tortilla for south-of-the-border flavor. Serve fillets over rice or pasta, with your favorite sauce and veggies on the side. Simmer it slowly in chowder or seafood stews. Use leftovers in fried rice or to stuff a pepper.
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