Low-fat, mild-flavored tilapia has become a favorite with health-conscious cooks because of its versatility. Coatings of crumbs, along with rubs and sauces, let you serve this easy-to-prepare fish in a variety of ways. Delicious when broiled plain, tilapia adapts well to seasonings of all kinds. Some coatings add calories to this low-fat fish, but serving it in a variety of ways can keep your family enthusiastic about tilapia for dinner.
Crisp coatings add both texture and taste to this mild fish. You can dip fish in beaten whole eggs, beaten egg whites, buttermilk or low-fat milk to encourage crumbs to adhere, then bake at moderately high heat, between 400 and 425 degrees Fahrenheit, in a lightly oiled pan, for approximately 20 minutes. Fish will be firm and the coating will be crunchy. Variations include seasoned Italian-style bread crumbs, coarse Japanese Panko bread crumbs or soft fresh bread crumbs. Add a substantial quantity of Parmesan cheese, up to 1/3 cup for four to six filets, and dried or fresh herbs to intensify flavors without overwhelming the delicate fish.
Cornflakes aren't just for breakfast. The crisp cereal provides the crunch in an assortment of oven-fried entrees such chicken. Vary this easy coating with whole-wheat cereal flakes, rice cereal, wheat-cracker crumbs and even graham-cracker crumbs. A little milk, beaten egg, mayonnaise or melted butter is all you need to hold crumbs in place. Gluten-free cereal or cracker crumbs provide a welcome taste and texture change to plain baked fish.
Especially useful for those avoiding gluten, cornmeal makes a light crunch coating for baked tilapia. Moisten filets with milk and dip in cornmeal seasoned with salt, pepper and spices like chili powder, which will give the cornmeal a little zing. Bake in a lightly oiled pan. Enhance southwestern flavors with a fruit or vegetable salsa added to the serving plate.
Two potato-based coatings illustrate how easily an ingredient can take over a main dish. Just as more diners may eat macaroni and cheese for the cheese, it is possible that a coating of potato flakes or crushed potato chips edges out the tilapia for first place in taste and texture. While both versions can be made with low-calorie egg whites, low-fat or regular mayonnaise makes a quick and easy binder for these crunchy coatings.
While more elaborate recipes are easily found, a quick way to pacify a fish-averse family member involves mixing mayonnaise with an equal quantity of horseradish, chili sauce or chopped pickle as a top-coating for baked fish filets. The topping bubbles slightly under baking heat and provides a spicy contrast to mild-flavored fish of all kinds. For a different approach, give tilapia filets an outer coat of southwestern, Caribbean, Indian or Asian spices. Brush a light coat of oil on both sides of the filets, sprinkle your spice mixture evenly over all surfaces and bake in a lightly oiled pan.