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.
Recipe of the Month
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- 2 Orca Bay Seafoods’ Tilapia 5oz fillet portions (1 Package)
- 2 cups chopped white onions
- 3/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 5 Tbsp lime juice
- 3 Tbsp orange juice
- 2 Tbsp chopped garlic
- Kosher salt
- 1 Cup mayonnaise
- 1 Tbsp milk
- Corn tortillas
- 2 avocados, peeled, pitted, and sliced
- 1 head cabbage, cored and thinly sliced
- Onion, cilantro, oil, lime juice, garlic and orange juice are mixed in a bowl. The tilapia is sprinkled with pepper and Kosher salt. Half the onion mixture is spread on the bottom of the baking dish. The fish is put on top of the onion mixture and the rest of the mixture is spread on the fish. This preparation is covered and refrigerated for 30 minutes. Then the fish is turned over and chilled for 30 more minutes. The milk, mayonnaise, and remaining lime juice is whisked in a bowl.
- The grill grate is brushed with oil and the barbeque is prepared. The fish is grilled with the marinade for approximately 5 minutes on each side. The tortillas are grilled for 10 seconds on each side.
- The tilapia is coarsely chopped and served on a platter. It is served with mayonnaise mixed with lime juice, remaining onions, tortillas, cilantro, cabbage, avocados and wedges of lime.