Simple pan-fried Tilapia with lots of colorful bell peppers makes a quick and easy, delicious and healthy meal! A great recipe if you want to eat more fish.
I’ve never been much a fish eater. I grew up on frozen fish sticks and salmon patties and, well, that’s all I have to say about that.
Luckily, Culinary School saves the day. I am now forced to cook things I would not otherwise cook. More importantly, the chef instructors are experts at making e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g taste great.
Even tilapia. Especially tilapia.
I don’t always go for quick-and-easy recipes, but when I do, we better not sacrifice AN OUNCE of deliciousness. This tilapia delivers.
The first step to a great piece of sautéed fish is a crispy, golden brown crust.
Start by patting the fish dry. If the fish has a lot of moisture on the surface, it’s not going to crisp and brown up the way you want. It will just end up steaming in place.
Paper towels are a good way to pat fish dry for food safety and convenience reasons. Then, follow up with some salt and pepper.
Next, get your pan hot. HOT. Oil-is-starting-to-smoke hot (olive oil gets a lovely lavender hazy-smoke when it’s hot). You can use olive oil or vegetable oil, just not butter (butter will burn).
The tilapia will cook quickly, but don’t move it around in the pan until the crust forms. If the fish sticks, your pan may not have been hot enough. Or, you didn’t have enough oil. But, you don’t want the fish swimming in oil, either (Bad Pun Club).
Flip the fish once, then reserve in a warm place.
Next up? All the peppers.
I added lots of colorful peppers, onions, diced tomatoes, fresh herbs, garlic, lemon juice, and capers. The sauce comes together in just a couple of minutes. (You only need 2 peppers total, but if you want all 4 colors the way I have it pictured, you’ll obviously use HALF of 4 differently colored peppers. Right? Right.)
Dinner is done fast, but dinner tastes GREAT. And that’s what counts.
Quick & Tasty Pan-Fried Tilapia
- 4 (6 ounce) tilapia fillets thawed
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup olive oil or vegetable oil
- 1 onion halved and thinly sliced
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 2 bell peppers any color, thinly sliced
- 1 (14 ounce) can diced tomatoes drained
- 1/4 cup capers drained and rinsed
- 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice from 1 lemon
- Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Pat fish dry with paper towels. Season on both sides with salt and pepper.
- Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Sauté fish in a single layer without moving until crispy and golden-brown on one side, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Flip each piece of tilapia and continue cooking until fish is 140 degrees. Transfer fish to oven to keep warm.
- To the same skillet, add onions and garlic and sauté 1 minute. Add peppers and sauté until softened, 1 to 2 minutes.
- Stir in tomatoes, capers, and thyme until heated through, about 1 to 2 minutes.
- Stir in lemon juice and add salt and pepper to taste. Return fish to pan and stir to coat with sauce.