Grabbing the Gusto

Deirdre Reid – Freelance Writer & Home Cook

You’ll love the coconut and citrus flavors in this quick fish dinner. Try it with tilapia, flounder, mahi mahi, or your favorite white-fleshed fish. Here’s my updated version of this dish.

coconut citrus tilapia ready for dinner

Do you know the hottest new trend in healthy foods is citrus? You do if you read my most recent Sunday Table post. Ever since my time in Sacramento I associate citrus with the winter months when the lemon, orange and grapefruit trees came into harvest, even in the downtown neighborhoods. Unfortunately I didn’t have any fruit trees in my tiny yard but I often received a bag of fruit from a neighbor or stranger.

If you’re watching your sodium, citrus is your friend – try adding a squeeze of lime or lemon, or a dash of lemon pepper instead of salt, to your dish. Citrus brightens up food and adds acidity, like vinegar would. Lime played that role for me recently in Mexican Shrimp Cocktail and Thai-Style Pineapple Salad.

When I first saw this recipe for citrus coconut breading on The Girly Girl Cooks blog, I knew I had to try it on fish. I made one change by leaving out the fruit juice because I didn’t have time to let crumbs dry. The coating still had a nice citrus flavor, but if you do have an hour to spare, check out her recipe for that variation. Somehow I forgot to add garlic (how unlike me!), so I omitted that from the recipe, but you could add it.

This dish took well under 30 minutes to make, Rachael Ray would be proud. Make your crumbs, get your other dredging bowls ready and go to it, that’s it. Of course you’ll need some sides. I tried out a potato no-mayo salad recipe and we had leftover smoked paprika kale. The kale recipe is here in the Shrimp & Grits post. It really deserves its own post, it’s that good.

coconut citrus tilapia ready for the pan

Coconut Citrus Tilapia ready for the pan

Citrus Coconut Tilapia

You’ll need two plates, a wide bowl and a skillet.

  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut – I used sweetened because that’s all the store had.
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
  • Zest of orange, lime and lemon
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 4 fillets tilapia
  • Canola oil

Mix together the breadcrumbs, coconut, ginger, lime, lemon and orange zests on a plate or wide shallow bowl.

In another wide bowl, beat together the egg and milk. Add salt and pepper.

Add flour to another plate. Dredge both sides of the fish in the flour. Shake off any excess. I glided my fingers over the fish to make sure the flour covered the entire piece evenly. Dip each piece into the egg mixture. Then, dredge both sides in the coconut/citrus mixture.

Saute fish in oil (or a combo of oil and butter) on medium heat for about 3 minutes per side, or until they’re cooked through. Watch the second side of the fillets, mine got a bit too dark the first time I made this, maybe the sugar in the sweetened coconut released and burned in the oil. Or perhaps my heat was too high. Medium heat works best on an electric stove–I had no problems with darkening since that first time.

Original recipe: Citrus Coconut Breading, The Girly Girl Cooks

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9 thoughts on “Coconut Citrus Tilapia

  1. Gwen says:

    Holy cow, Deirdre – that entire menu sounds delish. Going to make it this weekend, and I’m all by myself (Barry will be in Williamsburg)!

    1. deirdrereid says:

      The kale is an old stand-by here, even Jim likes it! Hopefully you won’t have the over-brown fish that I had, maybe the pan needed more oil or was just too hot.

  2. Gwen says:

    I’ll letcha know how it all came out! Saw your FB post about being in NC two years already – SO glad you still love it!!

  3. I love that you used it on Tilapia (my favorite fish)! Thanks for the shout-out, love your blog!

    1. deirdrereid says:

      Haley, that is one heck of a delicious coating for fish. My guy is already asking about a repeat performance! I love the looks of your chicken salad recipe. We roast chickens frequently and I’d love to have chicken salad without mayo. I only wish I had grown tarragon this year to have it handy — I wonder if it’s too late if I find seeds, hmm. Thanks for visiting me!

  4. Jonayhan says:

    Sounds great, will try. Love fish.

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