Baking stuffed tilapia keeps the filling in place while allowing the meat to completely cook through. It’s also a simple method that requires little work. Other dry heat cooking methods, such as grilling, don’t work well for the delicate stuffed fish and require constant attention. Wet cooking methods, such as steaming, can dull the flavor of the filling or wash away the stuffing.
Rinse the tilapia filets in cold water and gently pat dry with a paper towel. Place each filet in a baking dish.
Spread any filling, such as shredded crab, over each filet. Roll the filet up and secure with a toothpick. Position each stuffed tilapia roll in the baking pan with the seam side down. Place the rolls at least 2 inches apart to help ensure even cooking.
Bake the rolls at 400 degrees Fahrenheit until the fish is flaky and opaque, about 10 minutes per inch of filet height. Remove rolls from oven. Place rolls on plates and remove the toothpick. Use any juices left in the pan as a sauce over the dish.
- Rolling tilapia with filling is one of the easiest ways to stuff the fish, but it’s not the only way. You can also cut a thick filet to create a large pocket in the side. You then carefully stuff the pocket with ingredients and cook it the same way you do rolled tilapia. You can use the same types of stuffing for each method.
- Tilapia has a mild and almost sweet taste that makes it extremely flexible when it comes to stuffing. Roll the fish around a mixture of seasoned breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese and diced tomatoes for an Italian flavor. Stuff tilapia with cream cheese and diced chives for a creamy dish. Roll or stuff the fish with diced carrots, onions and celery for a crunchy twist.
- Don’t overcook or undercook the tilapia. Overcooking the fish leads to a dry consistency, while undercooking the tilapia can lead to health issues related to raw meat. Tilapia is white and flaky when fully cooked. You may need to cut the fish open if you roll it to check that the inside layer is cooked. Otherwise, you can just flake the fish with a fork to check that the meat is opaque.
- Don’t stuff tilapia with raw ingredients that need to be cooked to be safe to eat, such as raw beef. Baked tilapia tends to cook quickly, and while the stuffing does warm as the fish cooks, you cannot be sure the stuffing will cook enough to be safe to eat.
A writer since 2000, Aya Pauli has covered a variety of topics including food, fashion, beauty, health, parenting, education, decor and crafts. Her award-winning recipes have been published in food magazines such as "Taste of Home," and she is also the author of a salad cookbook. Pauli's craft projects appear in major manufacturer websites, including Dow Styrofoam. She also holds a CDA in early childhood education and works as a preschool teacher in Wyoming.
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