Pan Fried Whole Tilapia

There’s something wrong with this picture. I mean, this photo shouldn’t be here. Why? Because I really don’t care for fish served that way. At all! First off, I just hate the fact that it is staring at me. I mean, come on, food with a face? Not a big fan… And secondly, I hate bones. I hate any meat that has bones, save for steaks. Give me a good rib steak and I turn into a humanus carnivorous of the worst kind, and I will gnaw on that bone until it’s almost bare. Other than that, debone, please!

When I cook a fish whole, it’s usually a big “family size” salmon, and I bake it in the oven. Only the meat ever makes it to the plate. So why did I choose to take the whole fish served on the plate with head and all route? Quite simply because it’s something I had never done before and I wanted to give it a try. Mind you, initially, I was supposed to buy snapper fillets at the grocery, but they didn’t have any… That threw me off a little, but when I saw the cute little tilapias all bunched up on the ice, I thought that was a perfect replacement and a great opportunity to learn something new: how to panfry a fish.

The whole experience went rather well, but don’t think I will be doing this regularly because, well, I still seriously don’t care for bones and I can’t say I appreciated the experience. I have to admit though that the fish itself might have been one of the juiciest fish I’ve ever had. So unbelievably tender and moist! For that reason alone, there is a fairly good chance that I will eventually repeat the experience, only next time, the fish will get deboned before it makes it to my plate. At least that way, it won’t be giving me the eye while I’m picking at its flesh…

You will need, per person
1 Whole Tilapia, gutted, cleaned and descaled

Quick Marinade

  • The juice of half a lemon
  • ¼ cup fresh dill, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp olive oil

Instructions

  • Mix all the ingredients of the quick marinade together. Make 3-4 slits on each side of the fish.
  • Place the fish in a shallow dish and stuff the dill in the cavity. Pour the liquid over the fish and place it in the fridge to marinate for 15-20 minutes.
  • Heat some olive oil in a non-stick pan over medium heat. When you pan is hot enough, place the fish in and cook the first side for about 10 minutes. Flip the fish, cover and cook for an extra 5 minutes.
  • Serve with side of your choice (I went for warm rapini, which I find goes beautifully with lemon and dill)
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