Tilapia is a freshwater white fish with a mild and light flavor. The fish is a good source of lean protein and is high in selenium, a mineral necessary for proper thyroid and immune system function. Most tilapia is farm-raised, so it's readily available frozen and fresh in most supermarkets. Bake or broil tilapia easily and quickly for a healthy and satisfying dinner.
Because most commercial tilapia is farm-raised, most tilapia fillets are sold frozen. To safely defrost a tilapia fillet, place it on a plate in the refrigerator overnight or quickly defrost it in a bowl of room temperature -- not hot -- water. As you defrost tilapia, monitor the temperature of the filet and make sure it stays cold to prevent a food-borne illness. Most frozen fillets are skinned, but if you buy fresh fillets, ask the fish counter attendant to skin them for you. Skin the fillets at home using a knife with a flexible blade, or bake or broil tilapia with the skin on.
To bake tilapia fillets, preheat the oven to 375 or 400 degrees Fahrenheit. For moist and flavorful fillets, marinate them in a prepared marinade or citrus juice and spices. A combination of lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, parsley, salt and pepper makes a simple baking sauce for tilapia. Most tilapia filets are relatively thin, so they require only 10 to 20 minutes of baking time. If you live in a dry climate, you may want to cover the tilapia as it bakes to retain moisture.
Broiling tilapia is a little faster than baking it and will give the fillet a crispier texture. Season and lightly oil the tilapia, then place it in a broiler set at a high temperature. Depending on the thickness of the fillet, broiling tilapia usually takes five to eight minutes. After broiling, dribble a sauce on top to give the fish added flavor. Sauces that go well with tilapia include curries, salsas, mustard sauces, relishes and honey dressings.
Tilapia can also be grilled, sauteed or poached. For an easy family meal, serve cooked tilapia with a salad, some grilled vegetables and rice. Store leftover tilapia in a refrigerator for three to four days. Cook fish thoroughly to avoid food-borne illnesses, and monitor the cooking process at all times to avoid overcooking.