a peek inside the fishbowl

21 Oct, 2010

Will they eat it: Mystery fish

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Recipes and Food

It’s not really fair to call it a mystery fish, but we’d never eaten tilapia before this. I had to look it up.

Here’s something interesting from Wikipedia (bolding is mine):

Tilapia have very low levels of mercury as they are fast-growing and short-lived with a primarily vegetarian diet, and thus do not accumulate mercury found in prey. Tilapia is a low saturated fat, low calorie, low carbohydrate and low sodium protein source. It is a source of phosphorus, niacin, selenium, vitamin B12 and potassium.

However, farm raised tilapia (the least expensive and most popular) has a high fat content (though low in saturated fats). According to research published in July 2008, farm raised tilapia may be worse for the heart than eating bacon or a hamburger. The research suggests the nutritional value of farm raised tilapia may be compromised by the amount of corn included in the feed. The corn contains short chain omega-6s that contribute to the buildup of these materials in the fish. “Ratios of long-chain omega-6 to long-chain omega-3, AA to EPA respectively, in tilapia averaged about 11:1, compared to much less than 1:1 (indicating more EPA than AA) in both salmon and trout.” Wide spread publicity encouraging people to eat more fish has seen tilapia being purchased by those with lower incomes who are trying to eat a well balanced diet. The lower amounts of omega-3 and the higher ratios of omega-6 compounds in US farmed tilapia raise questions of the health benefits of consuming this fish.

Interesting about the corn eh?

We’re not big fish eaters here at Casa Fishbowl. I am on the fence about fish. I know it’s healthy – chock full of omegas etc. – but things like mercury, overfishing/factory trawls, wild vs. farmed fish, clouds everything for me quite a bit and I just avoid it. Also, for some reason, white fish has always seemed kind of boring to me. Go figure.

Anyway, in an effort to reduce the amount of meat we’re eating I want to start eating more fish. And this is the recipe I started with: Tilapia with Balsamic Butter Sauce, Thyme Mashed Potatoes, and Sugar Snap Peas. I liked the fact that this recipe gave me a main and two sides. No deep planning required!

Here it is:

Tilapia for dinner

If you have non-fish eaters at home I think this may be The Gateway Fish. 

  1. Everyone – ALL FOUR – loved the fish. The butter sauce is outstanding. There may be an alarming amount of butter involved, but do not skip it. The fish part of this recipe is incredibly quick to prepare and it’s very very mild and non-fishy.
  2. I knew going into this one that the girls wouldn’t eat the mashed potatoes but I made them anyway (but using milk instead of cream). They were delicious. Tell me, what kind of kid doesn’t eat mashed potatoes?? Crazy. We had leftover mashed potatoes and I used them to make potato pancakes for my lunch the next day. DIVINE.
  3. The sugar snap peas were the perfect side vegetable.

Yay! I’m so glad this one worked out. It’s my new favourite fish dish.

So what’s your tilapia recipe? A bunch of you alluded to this wonderful fish in my last “will they eat it” post and I need to know!

6 Responses to "Will they eat it: Mystery fish"

1 | Connie

October 21st, 2010 at 2:57 pm


I like this recipe from Recipezaar: http://www.food.com/recipe/parmesan-crusted-tilapia-169764

Apparently you can make a bunch ahead of time and freeze, but I haven’t tried this yet. Interesting background info on the fish. Tough to know how to manage the grocery aisles these days…sigh.

2 | Betsy Mae

October 21st, 2010 at 6:35 pm


I like this recipe


Something else I like to do with mellow white fish like tilapia and sole is to dip it in dijon mustard and then bread crumbs and bake it or pan fry it in a small amount of olive oil. It’s not a fav in this household but I like it.

Interesting and not so great about the farmed tilapia which is what I suspect I have been buying.

3 | karen at virtually there

October 21st, 2010 at 7:12 pm


I make really delicious fish-cakes with tilapia. Both my kids have eaten it since they were around 2, as long as I make homemade tartar (very easy) to go with it. If you’re interested, I can send you the recipe. As a bonus, the fish cakes have squash in them making them vitamin rich!

4 | Jen Hughes

October 21st, 2010 at 9:18 pm


When we eat fish (I’m on the fence like you), we usually eat tilapia for it’s unfishy taste. I find it’s almost like a chicken breast in its versatility with nearly any flavours. I’ve cooked it with an orange-basil sauce (can’t find the recipe right now, but it’s made with frozen orange juice concentrate, butter and fresh basil) that was really yummy.

If I’m in a rush and feeling uninspired, I shake a bunch of Cajun seasoning on each side as I pan-fry in a bit of butter, and it tastes yummy. Though I’m sure that seasoning is probably high in sodium.

One of my boys will eat fish, the other won’t. Same for mashed potatoes. My six-year-old is super-duper picky. Glad it was a success for you!

5 | Javamom

October 22nd, 2010 at 2:09 pm


MY kid doesn’t eat mashed potatos. Or mashes squash. Or mashed anything. THAT’s who!


We have fish once a week or so. This recipe looks delish!

6 | Valerie

October 22nd, 2010 at 2:17 pm


We used to eat tilapia, but got a “bad” (old?) one once and just can’t bring ourselves to try again.

We usually eat rainbow trout or salmon, just pan fried or bbq’d, sometimes with teriyaki sauce. Our kids prefer the trout. And they LOVE mashed potatoes (even when I hide cauliflower in them).

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