Cooking With Tilapia (and Caio)
Updated: Nov 3, 2020
I was born and raised in Brazil, and since I was a little boy, I remember tilapia being present in my family meals. My mom is a fantastic cook, and I was always inspired by her talent and agility in the kitchen. So these two recipes I am about to share with you are somehow inspired by watching her cook for the past 20 years. But first, let’s learn a bit more about the production of tilapia!
Tilapia became a popular farmed fish because it has been studied and tested in aquaculture for a long time, presents a fast growth rate in controlled environments, is resilient to varying water quality, and presents a firm white flesh with mild flavor. All those factors combined have led to the production of 6 million tons of tilapia worldwide in 2018 (FAO 2020), making it the third most farmed fish in the world.
In Brazil, it is not different. In fact, it is the most farmed fish in the country, outcompeting the native Amazonian fish such as tambaqui, pirarucu, and pintado. Brazil has seen a growth of tilapia production between 2005 and 2019 of 637% (EMBRAPA 2017; Peixe BR Association 2020), now accounting for 57% of all farmed fish grown in Brazil (Peixe BR Association 2020).
On a global scale, Brazil is the 4th largest producer of farmed tilapia, producing 432,149 tonnes in 2019, only behind China (1st:1.93 million tonnes), Indonesia (2nd:1.35 million
tonnes), and Egypt (3rd: 900 thousand Photo by Caio Vianna
tonnes) (Peixe BR Association 2020).
Nutritionally speaking, tilapia is considered a healthy option by many health professionals, including my mom (she holds a Bachelor's and Master's degree as a nutritionist)! Here are some nutritional facts about the fish:
A 3.5-ounce serving contains the following (Nutrition Data):
Carbohydrates: 0 grams
Protein: 26 grams
Fats: 3 grams
Niacin: 24% of the RDI
Vitamin b12: 31% of the RDI
Phosphorus: 20% of RDI
Selenium: 78% of RDI
Potassium: 20% of the RDI RDI = Reference Daily Intake
Tilapia is an impressive source of protein. At 3.5 ounces (100 grams), it contains 26 grams of protein and only 128 calories (Nutrition Data). Even more impressive is the amount of vitamins and minerals in this fish. Tilapia is rich in niacin, vitamin B12, phosphorus, selenium and potassium. So when you stare at it in the supermarket from now on, don’t hesitate to buy it!
Alright, enough of talking about tilapia. Let's talk about how to prepare these 2 delicious and simple dishes using farmed tilapia!
1. FAO. The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2020. Sustainability in Action. Rome. Available at: <https://doi.org/10.4060/ca9229en>
3.EMBRAPA. Produção de tilápia no Brasil cresceu 223% em dez anos - Portal Embrapa. (2017). Available at: <https://www.embrapa.br/en/busca-de-noticias/-/noticia/21621836/producao-de-tilapia-no-brasil-cresce-223-em-dez-anos>