Tilapia is a flaky, white freshwater fish that you can find fresh in your grocer’s seafood display or in frozen fillets. Unlike other freshwater fish, tilapia is very mild in flavor and it doesn’t require a lot of seasoning. Adding a coating to your fish helps trap in moisture while it's baking and adds a little extra crunch to the fish. But, a simple dredge of flour won’t give you much flavor or a crispy crust when baking, so you need to use crunchier alternatives, like breadcrumbs, crackers, potato flakes or cereal.
Break Out Breadcrumbs
Breadcrumbs are found in your grocery store and come seasoned or unseasoned. Use unseasoned breadcrumbs if you plan on adding your own flavors to the fish or try a seasoned variety -- such as Italian -- to have all of the seasonings added for you. A fine breadcrumb sticks better on tilapia than coarser crumbs and sticks better while baking.
Crush Up Crackers
Finely crushed crackers add a touch of salt and a familiar taste to your tilapia. You can use just about any cracker type, including saltines and butter crackers. To crush, place crackers in a plastic zip-lock bag and roll over the crackers using a rolling pin. If you don’t have a rolling pin, gently beat the crackers with a meat mallet. If using saltier crackers, don’t salt the fish, because you might over-season. For a twist, roll your tilapia in crushed cheese, ranch or pepper crackers.
Cereal Isn’t Just for Breakfast
Cereal adds a unique crunch and flavor to tilapia. Corn-, rice- and oat-based cereals all coat well. Use plain cereals or varieties that aren’t coated in excess sugar, because these add sweetness to your tilapia that may interfere with the rest of the dish. Break up cereal into a fine crust using the same method as with the crackers. For a twist crush up a vanilla-flavored cereal or a nut-flavored variety of cereal.
Make a Potato Crust
Potato crusts aren’t made from sliced potatoes -- they’re made using potato flakes. Buy unbuttered, unseasoned potato flakes at your grocery store and roll your tilapia fillets in them. Dip the tilapia in buttermilk infused with garlic and pepper for additional flavor and moisture.
Try Out Panko
Panko is a Japanese breadcrumb that has a light, flaky texture and works well with fish. Coat tilapia fillets using a quick dredge of egg and then dipping the fillets into the panko. Season your fish before breading them using salt and pepper and any other desired herbs.