Pan-fried tilapia has become a weeknight favorite at our house. I first made it after basketball practice one night and my husband and sons went nuts. My husband was shocked. He said, “You never fry fish. You should make tilapia like this from now on. Baked tilapia is not that good.” And my youngest son blurted out, “This tastes WAAAAYYYY better then that other fish.” Thanks guys. My oldest son is a suck up so he looked at me with those big brown eyes and long lashes and said, “You make good fish all the time, Mommy.” That’s true.
I usually bake or broil fish, but on this night I wanted to do something different. So I decided to shallow-fry some tilapia I bought earlier that day. Shallow-frying doesn’t require that much oil and I could have a little bit of a crust without making a thick batter for the fish. The tilapia was flaky and juicy with a crispy golden crust. And the herb butter casted a magical spell over the fish. It was glorious!
Makes 6 servings
Seafood Spice Mix
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
1 teaspoon coarse black pepper
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup vegetable or canola oil
6 tilapia fillets, about 6 ounces each
Lemon-Herb Butter, for serving
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with paper towels.
Mix the salt, Old Bay, pepper and garlic powder in a small bowl. Season both sides of the tilapia with seafood spice mix. Combine the flour and ½ teaspoon spice mix in a shallow dish. Dredge the fish in the seasoned flour to lightly coat, shaking off the excess flour. (I place the fish on a wire rack over a baking sheet to make sure there is no excess flour on the fish.)
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Carefully place the fillets in the pan and cook until golden on the on the bottom, about 3 minutes. Carefully flip over the fish and cook until the other side is golden and the fish is cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain the fish on the baking sheet and transfer to the oven to keep warm. Repeat with the remaining fillets, adding more oil to the skillet as needed.
Serve the tilapia warm with Lemon-Herb Butter.