Thursday, August 27, 2009

Old Bay Encrusted Tilapia

I usually don't post recipes here that I haven't made multiple times. I like to make a recipe several times, tweaking and tasting and writing down exactly how I like it best - so that when I share it on this blog, it's the best version of that dish that I've come up with.

But, I had a little first time kitchen triumph last night and wanted to share it today.

Here's a little something about me you might not know:

I have never liked fish.

I didn't grow up eating any fish - unless you count the greasy, deep fried stuff at Long John Silver's which my husband says doesn't count. So, for our purposes here, let's just say I didn't grow up eating fish.

So, I've kind of always had an aversion to it - never really wanting to try it when my husband would order it, and definitely not wanting to make it at home.

But, several of my friends and family convinced me that I should try tilapia. "It's a mild fish. It's delicate and doesn't taste and smell *fishy*." So, I decided to give it a whirl.

I bought four tilapia fillets and sat down to decide what combination might make for good flavor on fish. Because I knew it had to have flavor if I was gonna like it. And, since I'm from Maryland (GO RAVENS!), the first thing that came to mind was Old Bay.

If you've never used Old Bay, it is a delicious, flavorful seasoning that is commonly used on seafood. And, it's made by McCormick - a company based in my hometown!

So, I came up with a coating that included some of my favorite flavors that I thought would work well on my four tilapia fillets:

Old Bay.
Butter. But, of course.
Bread crumbs.

And, it was a delicious dish! It was light and flaky, flavorful and bright, and for the first time in my life, I enjoyed fish. And, I made it in my own kitchen!

And, it' easy. Easy, easy, easy. I broiled it - so it was ready in less than 10 minutes.

If you love fish, I'd love to hear what kinds of things you do with it. How do you like to make it? And, if you've never made fish at home or have never really been a big "fish" person, I hear you. I know just where you're coming from. But, give this one a try. It's incredibly easy, inexpensive, and full of flavor!


Old Bay Encrusted Tilapia

4 tilapia fillets
1 teaspoon Old Bay


2 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 tablespoon Old Bay
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup bread crumbs

Preheat broiler. In a small bowl, combine butter, Old Bay, lemon juice, Parmesan cheese and bread crumbs. Set aside.

Line a broiler pan or metal baking dish with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray. Place tilapia fillets in a single layer in pan and sprinkle one side of fillets with 1/2 teaspoon of Old Bay.

Broil for 3 minutes. Flip fillets over and sprinkle with additional 1/2 teaspoon of Old Bay. Broil for additional two minutes. Remove fillets from oven. Spread an even coating of mixture on top of each tilapia fillet and return to oven. Broil for 2 minutes or until coating is golden brown.



  1. That's how I make our fish! (Must be a Maryland thing ;0) But I usually add a dash of a dry green herb - parsley, basil, chives are all good options.

    I must have been on the computer too much this morning - ebay to be specific - b/c when I saw the title of your post, I wondered, "Why is she buying fish on ebay?" LOL

  2. I've been meaning to try tilapia, because it's so easy to find and inexpensive, but I wasn't sure how to cook it. I can't wait to try this one. I like recipes like this with minimal ingredients that let the fish flavor come through.

    I grew up in Alaska eating tons and tons of salmon. I like trout, halibut, and pretty much any other fish, but I prefer fresh, Alaskan red (sockeye) salmon. All other fish pales in comparison, literally. That pale pink, farmed Atlantic junk that is passed off as salmon in stores has no taste at all. If you buy Pacific or Alaskan red salmon and it tastes fishy, that means it is not fresh. Real, fresh red salmon is dark, dark red with a firm texture and a buttery taste. Lots and lots of professed fish haters have changed their minds when they've tried one of my dad's fresh salmon creations.

    My dad makes the greatest salmon on earth. He has two recipes for baked salmon that I absolutely adore, one called Oregon salmon that I can't find online but is a cheese/egg white topping with herbs, and one that is a crunchy honey/dijon/pecan topping. Both recipes complement the great salmon flavor without overwhelming it. The honey/dijon/pecan topping is a bit more flavorful, and can even partially salvage sub-par grocery-store salmon.

    Here's a couple variations of the honey dijon recipe:

    Klondike Baked Salmon

    Alaska Salmon Bake with Pecan Crunch Coating

    Dad also has a secret marinade for teriyaki salmon on the barbecue. I loved it so much as a kid I didn't even save room for dessert. I don't know if he even has it written down anywhere, but this is pretty close:

    Teriyaki Grilled Salmon

    Of course, real, fresh sockeye is so mild and tasty, you can just put it on the grill skin side down, and brush it with a bit of olive oil to keep it from drying out. It really doesn't need much more than that.

  3. Well, having grown up with you and never having really good fish, I'm not a fish-eater either. The only fish I like is salmon...and it has to be the good stuff from the Pacific or I don't bother. Which is why I pretty much only order it in a good restaurant, and then only if it's grilled, and well done. A good marinade and/or sauce is essential - I especially like creamy dill sauce or anything with garlic and herbs and/or spices.


  4. We sprinkle our tilapia with lemon pepper seasoning or sometimes we pour italian dressing on it before baking. :)

    I'll be trying this one! :)

    I selected a recipe for soup solely because it had old bay - it was delicious!! It did have crab and shrimp in it too, but the recipe had me at old bay! ;)

  5. I'm glad you posted this recipe. Dave would love it if I tried to make more fish and, after the way you decribed it, I was gonna ask for the recipe. :)

  6. Sar, I am hands down a lover of fish! I eat it atleast twice a week, but I grew up in a family where we loved everything seafood. I do a variation of your bread crumb topping but put a thin coat of mayo then some breadcrumbs and seasoning.

    But my favorite (and quick way to eat tilapia is to top it with Pineapple salsa which I get from trader joes. A little salt and pepper, then I load the salsa on top and bake. So yummy! Sometimes I sprinkle some shredded cheese on top of the salsa. I've used regular salsa too,and that is good. You can also use tilapia to make fish tacos. Just a marinade (like the tequila lime you suggested before) and then grill it. I like red cabbage slaw on my fish tacos.

    Some different ideas for you! You may like Mahi Mahi or Grouper too, if you liked the tilapia.

    Miss you! - Erin

  7. Patrick loves fish. I taught myself to like it for him. Tilapia is one of the most non-fish-eater friendly. Way to experiment!

  8. i am not a fish/seafood fan. unless it is deep fat fried walleye - then you can't taste the fish :o)

    we have tried tilapia before and it is landon's favorite. i have baked it with teriyaki and it was good. this sounds yummy! i have some tilapia in the freezer so i will be trying this recipe out soon. i picked up some old bay at the grocery store tonight. don't laugh - as much as i cook and bake i have NEVER used my broiler. i need to get my manual out for my oven to know how to use it. for some reason it intimidates me. weird i know.

  9. I have a great tilapia recipe on my blog. It uses salt, pepper, cooking wine, and lemon juice. Check it out if you are interested. My husband raved about it. I didn't eat it. I am stinky still, and refuse to eat fish! Maybe I'll try your and see.

  10. Hello I tried this recipe recently and I and my wife really enjoyed it! It is going into the recipe box. I read your Christmas post from 12/7 I think and I found it really inspirational. I am in a foggy place between believing and not believing in Jesus as a saviour and your words gave me something to reflect on. Funny what you find when you "google" tilapia old bay recipes! Merry Christmas.