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Recipe: Crispy Tilapia


Published July 1, 2011 at 4:00 a.m.

Crisp Tilapia
  • Crisp Tilapia

As warm weather returns, I like to cook a little lighter, and fish cooked well fits that bill. I remember my mother's preparations of fish or other cutlets for frying — one bowl for dredging the cutlet in flour, one bowl for dipping each piece in an egg wash and a final bowl for coating it in bread crumbs. Each cutlet would be quickly browned in butter and then baked until cooked through. The result was a crispy, delicious treat, perfect for cold weather, but not something I'd prepare in summer.

I used the same technique for years until I found several methods that are less messy, and less fatty. The one described below is my favorite. The result is more delicate than with the three-dip method above, perfect for a healthy summer meal.

Mild-flavored tilapia is ideal for kids who typically don't like fish. Add a bright green vegetable and a potato or pasta salad, and this could become one of your favorite family meals.

Crispy Tilapia

  • 4 tilapia fillets
  • 1 ½ cups bread crumbs, plain or Italian style — don't use fresh bread crumbs because they may not brown and crisp enough
  • ½ teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper (adjust to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise for coating (low or no-fat is fine)
  • 1-2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
  • lemon wedges or ranch dressing
  1. Place the fish on a clean surface and pat dry with a paper towel.
  2. Place the bread crumbs, salt and pepper in a small, wide bowl and toss to combine.
  3. Brush each piece of fish with a light coating of mayonnaise and place in the bread crumbs, turning to cover both sides, and pressing lightly to get the crumbs to adhere.
  4. Heat a 10-12-inch skillet over medium to high heat and add 1 tablespoon of vegetable or olive oil, tilting the pan to coat. Place the fish in the pan, cooking until browned, about 2 minutes, and carefully turn each piece over. If the pan looks too dry, add another tablespoon of oil.
  5. Continue cooking until the fish is cooked through, about 2 or 3 more minutes on the second side. Serve with lemon wedges or ranch dressing.


Cooking Time: 35 minutes
Serves: 4

This recipe works just as well with pork, chicken or turkey cutlets.

Kristina Creighton is a former restaurant owner and the author of Kristina's Kitchen Cookbook and The Practical Palate Cookbook. She lives in Granville.

This article was originally published in Seven Days' monthly parenting magazine, Kids VT.