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  • Writer's pictureCaio Vianna

Recipe #2: Tilapia Parmigiana

Fish parmigiana is a dish that consists of breaded fish fillets (in this case we will be using farmed tilapia) covered in tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese. In Brazil, this

tradition started in the late 90’s when stocked fishing ponds, which were open to the public, were flourishing in the southeast region of the country. As you know now (see my first blog post here), tilapia is the most abundantly farmed fish in Brazil and iis becoming an affordable option for most of the population. Photo from Pesqueiro Itaúna

Join me in the kitchen, and let me show you how to prepare this amazing dish!


You will need the following ingredients:


  • 4 tilapia fillets

  • ½ cup of wheat flour

  • 1 cup of breadcrumbs

  • 2 eggs

  • 3 tablespoons of water (or whole milk)

  • ½ cup of fresh grated parmesan cheese

  • Lemon zest from 1 large lemon

  • 1pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)

  • 2 cups of cooking oil (Canola, Corn…) for frying

  • 2 cups of shredded Mozzarella cheese

  • Chopped rosemary leaves to taste (optional but recommended)

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


  • 6-8 good sized Roma tomatoes

  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

  • 3-5 branches of fresh basil

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste



For homemade tomato sauce:

  1. In a medium-large pan, fill it halfway through with water and bring it to boil

  2. With a sharp knife, make a cut in a “X” shape at the bottom of each of the tomatoes. This will help the peel come off more easily once they are done

  3. Place the tomatoes in the pan with boiling water

  4. Cook the tomatoes for 8-10 minutes or until they are starting to release the peel

  5. Place the tomatoes on a strainer, and place them in the sink. Turn on the cold water, and start peeling the remaining peels of the tomatoes

  6. Place the same pan you used to cook your tomatoes on the stove on a medium-high heat

  7. Once it's hot, add in the olive oil, the peeled tomatoes, and the basil branches. Season with salt and pepper to taste

  8. Once it’s boiling, turn the heat down to medium-low and simmer for around 20 minutes, stirring occasionally


Hot Tips: 

  • If you want to have a delicious tomato sauce ready to go when you are in a hurry, you can double or even triple this recipe. You can then freeze the extra tomato sauce in small glass pyrex and freeze them to use up to 120 days later!

  • Also, If you don’t have time to prepare this sauce, I would highly recommend you use Rao’s Marinara sauce. It is made only with italian ingredients, all natural and organic. I can assure you this is the most delicious supermarket sauce you will ever taste. They sell it for a great price at Costco. 


Breading and frying the fish:

  1. Preheat the oven at 475 F (240 C)

  2. In a small bowl, break one egg at a time and transfer to a deep dish. Add the water (or milk) and season with rosemary, lemon zest, parmesan cheese, salt and red pepper. Beat with a fork just to mix the egg whites with the egg yolks.

  3. In a shallow dish, place the breadcrumbs, in another the wheat flour and season with a pinch of salt. Line a platter with paper towels.

  4. Bread the fish: season each Tilapia with salt and pepper to taste; pass the steak through the wheat flour and beat with your hands to remove the excess; dip in the beaten eggs and let the excess drain well; pass through breadcrumbs and press well with your hand to cover the entire surface. If you want to make a second breading, go through the egg and breadcrumbs again - this way the crust becomes very sticky and crunchy.

  5. In a high-frying pan, place the oil and heat over medium heat. To find the right temperature for frying: dip a matchstick in the still cold oil, when it lights up it is a sign that it is ready.

  6. Carefully dip 2 fillets to fry at a time (if your pan is small, fry 1 at a time). Let it fry for 1 minute until golden brown, with a slotted spoon (or tongs) turn the steaks to brown the other side evenly. Transfer to the dish lined with paper towels and repeat with the rest. 

  7. Once all the fillets are fried, place them in a large rectangular pyrex or ceramic baking dish and cover them with 1 cup of the shredded cheese. Place the sauce on top of the fillets and sprinkle with the remaining cheese on top of the sauce which will create a nice crisp layer once done.Place the baking dish in the oven for 6 minutes or until cheese is melted

  8. Serve with white rice and fried potatoes and you will have a classic Brazilian country-side dish ready to eat!

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