How to Pan Sear Tilapia

pan fried tilapia with asian slaw and roasted potatoes
Pan fried tilapia with potatoes. (Image: rez-art/iStock/Getty Images)

Tilapia is a flaky white fish and a popular seafood entree in the United States. However, according to 2008 research from Wake Forest University School of Medicine, it is best to avoid farm-raised tilapia as it is notably low in omega-3 fatty acids, one of the key health benefits attributed to fish. It is also unhealthily high in omega-6 fatty acids. Opt for wild tilapia instead. Tilapia is so mild, it supports just about any flavors and ingredients used with fish or poultry. Fillets are quick and easy to pan sear. For this method, use fully thawed tilapia fillets.

Step 1

Rinse the fully defrosted tilapia fillet with cold water and gently blot it dry with clean paper towels.

Step 2

Dredge the tilapia fillet in the flour if you want it coated. Season the fish with salt, pepper or other desired herbs and spices.

Step 3

Put the cooking oil or unsalted butter into a medium skillet. Turn on the burner to medium-high heat. Heat the oil until it shimmers, or the butter until it fully melts and begins to turn brown.

Step 4

Place the tilapia fillet gently into the pan. Add a splash of red or white wine or a citrus juice, if you like.

Step 5

Flip the tilapia with a spatula after 2 to 3 minutes, once the bottom is nicely browned.

Step 6

Pan sear the other side of the tilapia fillet for another 2 to 3 minutes, until it too is nicely browned.

Step 7

Press a fork into the center of the tilapia. Make sure its flesh is uniformly opaque throughout, and that the meat flakes readily.

Step 8

Remove the pan-seared tilapia from the skillet quickly, as it doesn't take long to overcook in a hot pan.

Things You'll Need

  • Paper towels

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, seasonings

  • 1 tbsp. cooking oil or unsalted butter

  • Medium skillet

  • Wine or citrus juice

  • Spatula

  • Fork

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