- Recipes By Fish Type
Scientific Name: Tilapia can be any species of the genus’ Tilapia, Oreochromis, or Sarotherodon (which are collectively known as “Tilapia”)
Origin and Habitat: Tilapia go by many names. The common name tilapia is based on the name of the cichlid genus Tilapia, which is itself a latinization of thiape, the Tswana word for “fish.” The moniker “St. Peter’s fish” comes from the story in the Christian Bible about the apostle Peter catching a fish that carried ashekel coin in its mouth, though the passage does not name the fish. One tilapia species (Sarotherodon galilaeus galilaeus) is found in the Sea of Galilee, where the author of the Gospel of Matthew accounts the event took place. This species has been the target of small-scale artisanal fisheries in the area for thousands of years. In some Asian countries including the Philippines, large tilapia go by pla-pla while their smaller brethren are just tilapia.
Tilapia has become the third most important fish in aquaculture after carps and salmonids, with production reaching 1,505,804 metric tons in 2002. Because of their large size, rapid growth, and palatability, a number of tilapiine cichlids are at the focus of major aquaculture efforts. Originally, the majority of such fisheries were in Africa, but introductions of tilapia into freshwater lakes in Asia have led to outdoor aquaculturing projects in countries with a tropical climate such as Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, and Indonesia.
Tilapia are also among the easiest and most profitable fish to farm. This is due to their omnivorous diet, mode of reproduction (the fry do not pass through a planktonic phase), tolerance of high stocking density, and rapid growth. In some regions the fish can be put out in the rice fields when rice is planted, and will have grown to edible size (5–6 inches) when the rice is ready for harvest.
Preparations/Pairings: As a smaller-sized fish, in Africa and the Middle East Tilapia traditionally are grilled whole, but for a less-dramatic approach, the usual whitefish preparations apply. Light in texture and flavor, you’ll love Tilapia breaded or baked with a great herb and spice rub, and as a tropical fish they conjure Southeast Asian or Mediterranean flavorings and pairings.