Cookbook Profile

Costa Rican Tilapia


Costa Rican Tilapia Catch the tropical flavors of the sunny Caribbean with tilapia, a small, perch-like fish. Tilapia (tuh-LAH-pee-uh) has a mild taste, a small snapper-like flake, and firm, white flesh. Tilapia traces its wild origins to the Nile River in Egypt and is currently farm-raised in warm waters around the world. Frank Simon, a friend who farm-raises tilapia in Costa Rica, shares this classic dish, brimming with beans and rice. To up the "wow" factor when you serve this dish, garnish the top with extra orange wheels as shown in the photo.

Preparation time: 30 minutes
Marinating time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Yield: 6 servings


3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro or parsley, divided
4 teaspoons minced garlic, divided
1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon sugar
6 tilapia fillets, about 5 ounces each
3/4 cup long-grain rice
1 cup chopped onions
2 oranges, peeled, seeded, coarsely chopped
1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can (15 ounces) black or pinto beans, drained, rinsed
1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper


1. For the tilapia marinade, combine lime juice, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 2 tablespoons cilantro, 1 teaspoon garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and sugar in a shallow dish. Add tilapia and marinate 15 minutes, turning once.

2. To prepare the bean and rice mixture, cook the rice according to package directions and keep warm while the tilapia is marinating. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large, high-sided skillet or saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil on medium heat. Add remaining garlic and onions; sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes, stirring. Add 2 tablespoons cilantro, oranges, tomatoes, beans, oregano, 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, and cayenne. Cook, uncovered, until hot, 7 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Transfer hot rice to a 9 by 13 inch or 2-1/2 to 3 quart baking dish. Spoon the bean mixture on top of rice and gently blend. Slightly overlap tilapia fillets on top and scrape marinade over fillets. Bake until the flesh of the tilapia just begins to flake at the nudge of a fork, 16 to 20 minutes.

Vary It:
Snapper, striped bass, whitefish, cod, flounder, halibut, and haddock are tasty substitutes for tilapia.

A chopstick works well when you need to stir tender mixtures of rice or couscous to prevent the grains from breaking up.

Use leftover cooked rice (2 cups), if desired, and reheat in the microwave for 2 to 3 minutes.

Buy the Book!


Seafood Cooking For Dummies
By Leslie Beal Bloom and Marcie Ver Ploeg
IDG Books Worldwide
Paperback, $19.99
ISBN: 0-7645-5177-9
Recipe reprinted by permission.


Seafood Cooking For Dummies



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This page created January 2000