Tilapia

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tilapia_sucksI wanted fish for dinner tonight, but settled for tilapia instead. Is there anything on earth that is more tasteless than tilapia? I couldn’t refuse the price when I was at the grocery store, it was half the cost of the next cheapest fish and the first bite reminded me why. This stuff is useless.

In my arrogance, I assumed that I could just make a wonderfully tasty sauce and mask the fact that this alleged fish has the same flavor profile as styrofoam. All I did was ruin a perfectly good lemon caper cream sauce by introducing the flavor black hole that is tilapia.

Wikipedia has this to say about tilapia:

The common name tilapia is based on the name of the cichlid genus Tilapia, which is itself a latinisation of thiape, the Tswana word for “fish”.[1] The genus name and term was first introduced by Scottish zoologist Andrew Smith in 1840.[2]

As they have been introduced globally for human consumption, tilapia often have specific names for them in various languages and dialects. Certain species of tilapia are sometimes called “St. Peter’s fish.” This term is taken from the account in the Christian Bible about the apostle Peter catching a fish that carried a shekel coin in its mouth. However, no species of fish is named in that passage of the Bible.[3] While that name is also applied to Zeus faber, a marine fish not found in the area, one tilapia (Sarotherodon galilaeus galilaeus) is known to be found in Sea of Galilee where the account took place. This particular species is known to have been the target of small-scale artisanal fisheries in the area for thousands of years.[4][5] In some Asian countries including the Philippines, large tilapia are often referred to as pla-pla while their smaller brethren are still referred to as tilapia.[6] In Hebrew, tilapia are called amnoon (אמנון). In Arabic, tilapia are called mushṭ (مشط) (brush) because of its brush-like tail. It is called jilaebi in Tamil.

What they forgot to mention is that tilapia SUCKS! Unless you have no choice, I suggest eating almost any other fish.

  • Claire

    not true…try this: on a baking sheet, place a length of foil, drizzle on sesame oil, place frozen tilapia on top. Season lightly with lemon juice, black pepper and salt. Cover with sliced shitake mushrooms and onion wedges. Add dollops of butter to the top. Wrap this in the foil in a loose package. Steam in over for 15 minutes at 350, remove and open foil package. Return to oven at 450 for 5 mins to dry out extra juices. Serve on a bed of basmati rice or lightly salted egg noodles – Divine

    • http://www.anotherwineblog.com jpower

      I was exagerating some, of course, and your recipe sounds delicious, but imagine how good that would taste with a better piece of fish? In fact, I'll bet an old boot would taste good if prepared the way you suggest. :)

      To my point, though, take a fresh piece of tilapia and nice piece of sea bass, or something similar, salt and pepper them, brown them off nicely in a little, and take a bite of each. Only one will remind you of packing peanuts.

  • http://www.anotherwineblog.com WineWonkette

    I thought the dinner was awesome. I loved the sauce and the delicate flavor of the tilapia was perfect with the Crios Torrontes you paired with it!

    • http://www.anotherwineblog.com jpower

      Thank you, nice lady. However, I still maintain that the flavor was so delicate as to not even exist. :)

  • thyathya

    thanks!

  • http://www.chevsky.com Iron Chevsky

    I couldn't disagree more about your tilapia conclusion. My wife and I buy live tilapia in a chinese market all the time. We steam it smothered in some ginger, scallions, and a little bit of chinese cooking white wine – and it is one of the most delicious fish flesh you can think of – and we tried many other fish. I used to think that cod was tasteless too – until I tried it in a few chinese restaurants and realized that I just didn't know how to make it.

    Regards,
    Iron Chevsky (from Iron Chevsky wine blog at http://www.chevsky.com)

    • http://www.anotherwineblog.com Joe Power

      While chuckling and (almost) ignoring the implication that I don’t like tilapia because I don’t know how to cook it, I just have to wonder how something that is inherently tasteless and requires “proper” cooking, i.e. adding flavor to something that has none is supposed to be a good thing?

      Good cooking is the process is bringing out the natural flavors in food, not masking it’s deficiencies.

    • http://www.anotherwineblog.com jpower

      Trust me, I know how to make Tilapia. Simply put, you have to add flavor because it has none. Your recipe does the same. It is a tasteless fish. Cod is not.

  • http://acuriousjourney.blogspot.com/ Meka

    I've actually grown quite fond of Tilapia. I appreciate that its flavor isn't too strong. That makes it easier to add different flavors to it according to whatever my recipe calls for (or whatever I have on hand).

    Nevertheless, I recently read some alarming information about farm-raised Tilapia. It says it could be as bad for you as your basic beef or pork. I have to do more research on that, but it looks like I might have to switch up my seafood game.

  • Eric

    I was mystified as why Tilapia tasted quite delicious the first times I ate it, going back over a decade ago, and why it has tasted so awful to the point of being inedible the past few times I've had it.

    I have since discovered that the answer does not lie in the innate quality of the fish, but in the quality of the water it inhabits and the food it is fed, as this is a fish that is farmed on an increasingly wide scale.

    So those of you who enjoy Tilapia at present, be warned that there are probably an increasing number of unscrupuluous fish farmers around that are feeding their fish stock on rubbish and keeping them in muddy, unclean water, so don't bank on uniformly good quality Tilapia in future.

    • http://www.anotherwineblog.com jpower

      That explains a lot, Eric. Thanks!

  • http://www.bradfordsbakers.com Hampers

    This is considered a choice for the usual masses- A gift to be considered. Anything can be harness to reach whatever taste you want it to have…at least you tried to taste the tasteless…and find ways to make it tasteful – Wine hamper may add delights to you after…

  • 123aquatropicalfish123
  • 123aquatropicalfish123
  • http://cookingchileanseabassrecipes.blogspot.com/ Cooking Chilean Sea Bass Recipes With Yan

    In my experience, you have to prepare a good custom made food sauce in order to make a delicious tilapia fish

  • TS

    I think the Tilapia is a boon for non-fish eaters thanks to its texture and lack of 'fishy' taste. I am a determined fish-non-eater (having tried a wide variety- as an otherwise unfussed eater, I have a rule that I try everything at least once)

    The other day my brother-in-law made it in the 'tandoori' style. The fish was delectable to say the least. The fact that it picks up the flavours of the sauces and the spices is exactly what makes this humble fish so great.

  • TS

    I think the Tilapia is a boon for non-fish eaters thanks to its texture and lack of 'fishy' taste. I am a determined fish-non-eater (having tried a wide variety- as an otherwise unfussed eater, I have a rule that I try everything at least once)

    The other day my brother-in-law made it in the 'tandoori' style. The fish was delectable to say the least. The fact that it picks up the flavours of the sauces and the spices is exactly what makes this humble fish so great.

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  • Apoyo

    Tilapia when grown in aquaculture ponds is not nearly as healthy as “fish”, as is mentioned in Elisabeth Rosenthal’s article in the New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/02/science/earth/02tilapia.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all). Its production by cage aquaculture in natural water systems affects native fish populations as well (http://www.gaianicaragua.org/Canonico%20et%20al%202005%20Aquatic%20Conservation.pdf).
    Jeffrey McCrary
    FUNDECI/GAIA, Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve, Nicaragua
    http://www.lagunadeapoyo.blogspot.com

  • http://twitter.com/REGALTILAPIA RegalSpringsTilapia

    You chose the wrong tilapia. You went wrong when you “couldn’t refuse the price.”

    • http://www.anotherwineblog.com Houstonwino

      Wow, where do you live that tilapia costs as much as tuna, salmon or sea bass? Maybe you should move.

    • http://www.facebook.com/rodney.patterson.9404 Rodney Patterson

      When you know what to look for, it’s easy to get a wonderful tasting fish…every time. If a person selects fish by the price, they have no business giving fish reviews. You may as well go order a fish fillet from McDonalds.

  • nate

    I agree, my aunt tried to get us to eat it and it’s beyond bland.  It really is the fish for non-fish eaters.   My wife likes cod, I can’t stand it but at least it tastes like something.  Toss me a trout or chunk of catfish and I’ll be happy

  • Chris Jaeger

    Tilapia, also known as “ass fish” by local San Diegans just flat out sucks!
    My god if Golden Corral serves this tripe it’s not worth the trouble! Sure you can mask the foul taste with various combos of spices & sauces…but why? Large scale, bottom dwelling, trash eating , garbage fish! Nuff said!