Tilapia: Delicious Fish for Low-Fat, Low-Carb Diets!
Tilapia has been an important food staple in Mediterranean and African countries since ancient times. Legend tell us that the disciple Peter fished for tilapia, and that it is the fish that Jesus fed the masses with.
Tilapia is the common name for many species of Cichlid. The fish comes in range of colors, from gray to blue-black, light red or bright golden red. This small fish, similar in shape to a sunfish, is usually harvested at 1-1/2 to 2 pounds.
A freshwater fish native to tropical climates, tilapia is raised on fish farms in North and South America, making it an ideal food for those who are concerned about the environment. Fish farming allows the species population to be controlled, without the danger of the species being fished into extinction, and gives consumers a constant and consistent supply year round.
This delicious, sweet-tasting fish is low in fat and carbohydrates and high in protein. A four-ounce serving (before cooking) contains 100 calories, with 25 of those calories from fat. A serving also provides 0.5mg saturated fat, 55mg cholesterol, 60g sodium, 21g protein, and 1g total carbohydrates.
Tilapia can be purchased fresh or frozen, as whole fish, skin-on fillets, or boneless, skinless fillets. The meat is white, but the red-skinned varieties may have a pinkish color. The skin is edible but may have a bitter taste. The mild, flaky meat is takes seasoning well and lends itself to any cooking method. Tilapia can be substituted for other fish in most fish recipes, and works especially well in recipes for red snapper, sea bass and porgy.
The fillets are small and thin, and cook quickly. This versatile fish can be broiled, baked, grilled, sauteed, poached, steamed or microwaved for a low-fat meal (provided the cook doesn’t add extra fats). It can also be battered or breaded, and deep fried or pan fried.
When preparing tilapia, don’t handle it too much. This flaky fish will fall apart easily when cooked. Tilapia can be marinated, but leave it in the marinade for only a short time or it will break down the structure of the meat.
When buying fresh tilapia, use it within three days and keep it wrapped tightly in plastic so it doesn’t dry out. Tilapia can be frozen in plastic wrap or an airtight container for up to four months.
Here are some simple tilapia recipes you can try:
Coat boneless tilapia fillets with an egg wash and seasoned bread crumbs, then place on a baking sheet coated with non-stick spray. Bake at 400 degrees F for10-15 minutes, or until the fish flakes easily with a fork.
Try this easy Tilapia Gratin: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and butter a shallow baking dish. Lay boneless fillets in the bottom of the dish. Combine a can of cream of celery soup with 1/4 cup milk, and warm the mixture in a saucepan. Pour the soup mixture over the fish, and sprinkle with grated cheese and breadcrumbs. Bake for 10-15 minutes until the top is browned and the fish flakes easily.
Marinate tilapia with your favorite salad dressing or barbecue sauce, then grill 3 to 4 minutes per side, turning once.
Broken pieces can be added to pasta, salads, soups, sauces.
Tilapia is excellent for fish tacos!
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