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pan-frying Cajun, Creole
Not-Quite Blackened Tilapia Recipe-11000

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The first time I tasted tilapia was at The Inn at Le Rosier in New Iberia, Louisiana, where chef Hallman Woods III prepared it in a simply delicious manner. The second time was a Cajun inspired moment in my own kitchen, when I liberally spiced and semi-blackened up some. Originally, the tilapia available in markets was fished wild and had a salty, muddy taste. Nowadays the white-fleshed fish is farmer raised and sweet.

Yield: Serves 4


Spice mixture:

  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon dry mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • ¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 4 tilapia fillets (about 6 ounces each)
  • 4 lime halves, for garnish


1. Prepare the spice mixture: Combine all the ingredients for the spice mixture in a small bowl.

2. Place the melted butter in a bowl.

3. Heat a heavy nonstick skillet over high heat for 5 minutes (see Notes).

4. Meanwhile, dip the fish fillets in the butter. Sprinkle them allover with the spice mixture.

5. Reduce the heat very slightly and sear the coated fish, 2 fillets at a time until very dark brown and crispy, 2 minutes per side. Repeat with the remaining 2 fish fillets.

6. Serve immediately, garnished with lime halves.


Wine: Monterey County (CA) Pinot Blanc

Beer: California pale ale

Working with a skillet that’s been heated over high heat for this length of time means you’ve got to take some precautions.

© 1997 Sheila Lukins

Nutritional Information

Nutrients per serving (% daily value)

287kcal (14%)
525mg (22%)
15g (23%)
9g (43%)
115mg (38%)
113mcg RAE (4%)
20mg (33%)
48mg (5%)
2mg (10%)

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