We can all agree that tilapia is one of the easiest fish to like if you’re not big on seafood, right? It’s pretty mild, easy to cook, and widely available. I find myself reaching for tilapia for a lot of quick weeknight meals, and they can get boring pretty fast.
But there’s one thing that always punches up some pan-fried tilapia for me, and that is some sweet and spicy salsa to spoon over top. There is something about the salty/sweet/spicy flavor combination that works so well on some quick, pan-fried tilapia, and I am here for it.
Mango Jalapeno Salsa
The anatomy of a good spicy/sweet salsa consists of something spicy (duh), something sweet (also duh), something a little crunchy, and something herbaceous.
I tend to use jalapeno for both crunch and spice the most. For the sweet element, I go back and forth between pineapple and mango. Since we’re putting this over top of fish, I opted for mango instead of pineapple. I find pineapple can be a little overwhelming for the tilapia – but if I was putting this on something like pork, I would totally go for pineapple instead.
I also like to add some shallot for some savory notes and extra crunch. And then I like to finish everything off with some cilantro and mint for freshness. Everything melds together with lime juice and salt and makes a super craveable salsa.
You can eat this salsa as is with tortilla chips or do we what we’re doing and add them to some sort of protein. You could also add avocado with a little extra lime juice and salt if you wanted something more substantial. Play around with the combinations you like best!
Pan Fried Tilapia
So once you make your salsa, you want to let the flavors come together for 5-10 minutes. Which is coincidentally all the time you need to make perfect pan-fried tilapia. I’ve got a preferred method that goes like this:
Step One: pat dry the tilapia filets and season liberally with salt and pepper.
Step Two: Melt part butter and part olive oil together over medium high heat in a non-stick skillet.
Step Three: Add the tilapia filets and cook undisturbed for 7-8 minutes. The fish should be almost completely cooked through with very little of the meat still being translucent.
Step Four: Flip the filets and cook for an additional minute then remove from heat.
Cooking the tilapia this way gives you fish that is really crispy and golden on the top. It still gets cooked all the way through without over-cooking. If you were to try to get that golden brown crust on both sides, the tilapia would be overcooked.
Once the tilapia is cooked, serve it immediately alongside the mango jalapeno salsa. This is great with a little bit of white rice on the side as well to round out the meal.
Aaaand if you’re really in a comfort food kind of mood then these would make really great fish tacos. Just sayin’ 🙂
Pan Fried Tilapia with Mango Jalapeno Salsa
No boring fish dishes here – this easy pan-fried tilapia is flavorful and vibrant thanks to the sweet and spicy mango jalapeno salsa
- 2 small mangoes peeled and cubed 2/3 cup in total
- 1 medium shallot, minced 3 tbsp in total
- 2 tbsp chopped cilantro
- 1/2 tbsp chopped mint
- 1 tbsp lime juice
- ¼ tsp kosher salt
- 4 large tilapia fillets about 1.5 lbs in total
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp olive oil
Combine the mangoes, shallot, cilantro, mint, lime juice, and kosher salt in a small bowl. Stir to combine and let the flavors meld while you prepare the fish.
Pat dry the tilapia fillets with paper towels and season generously with salt and pepper
Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat and add 2 tbsp butter and 2 tbsp olive oil
When the pan is hot, add the tilapia fillets and cook on one side undisturbed for 7-8 minutes
Flip the tilapia fillets to the other side and cook one minute longer, or until the tilapia is cooked all the way through. Remove from heat and serve immediately.
Serve each fillet with a bit of the mango jalapeno salsa on the side and white rice if desired