How to fry tilapia
Alright, I admit it. I hate frying tilapia. I hate it when they refuse to uncling themselves from the pan. Ooh… and the injuries! Have you had hot oil pop at you while trying to flip those stubborn things over? I’m telling you, those innocent looking tilapia always get the best of me. Well, almost always. After I had finally swallowed my pride and asked my Mama, those dark morbid pan-frying days were over!
By the way, Mama’s tips are not classified and I gladly share them to you. So without further ado…
Tip 1: Heat that pan!
This is very important. Heating the pan until it literally gets smoking hot is actually the key to non-stick frying. Also, make sure that the pan you use has a flat bottom so that the temperature is equally distributed and the fish cooks evenly.
Tip 2: Heat the oil!
It’s not only the pan that needs to be heated, but the cooking oil as well. When oil is poured into the pan, the temperature drops down a bit. Wait until the oil starts to crackle. Do not skimp on oil, but we’re not to drown the poor creatures either. Around 6-8 tablespoons of oil will do. Oh, and gently lay the tilapia into the pan to avoid hot oil spraying on you. Whatever you do, do not drop the fish!
Tip 3: No overcrowding!
The more fish in the pan, the more surface area it takes for heat to cover. This will prolong the cooking process as well. I usually fry two medium sized tilapias at a time.
Tip 4: It’s all about timing!
Let the fish be. It takes about 5 minutes for each side to cook (of course, this depends on the size of the fish). With a spatula, find out if the fish still sticks to the pan. If it does, then do not force flipping it over and just wait a few more minutes before trying again. If you force it, the skin of the fish will stick to the pan. Bummer!
Tip 5: Flip it sideways!
Flip the fish by sliding the spatula under from its dorsal side. The tilapia is meatier on this side so it is heavier. Ergo, you have good leverage if you flip the fish over from this side.
Tip 6: Make it even tastier!
Now this last bit is mine. I usually just season the insides of the stomach and the head of the tilapia with salt. Then I would crush garlic cloves and insert one inside each head. The flavor and aroma of the garlic actually spread through the rest of the fish’ meat while frying. Yummy!