Grilling red meats every time you have a BBQ is going to have an effect on your heart health eventually, but there’s little reason to fear.
You can still get that BBQ out and cook something healthy by barbecuing some whitefish.
If you live by the coast, and it’s the summertime, now is the season to get friendly with your local angler and fishmonger and get some fresh fish.
Forget the hog roast, there is no way to impress your guests then grilling locally sourced American fish that you can say you got fresh that morning – this is a true delicacy.
Tilapia is a very common and popular fish to stick on your barbecue, but ‘tilapia’ actually refers to a whole family of fish that contains nearly a hundred species, the genus of which is known as Oreochromis – this is all information that will impress your fishmonger.
Tilapia remains the fourth most consumed fish in the US since 2002, this is thanks largely to its low price, easy prep, and lack of a strong ‘fishy’ taste.
This means the tilapia is a crowd pleaser you can use at your next cookout without fear of unhappy guests.
Here are some of our favorite recipes to inspire your next cookout.
Easy Grilled Tilapia With Tomatoes
This is a super easy recipe to start with, which you can build your own layers of flavoring on top of.
The recipe requires the fish to be grilled directly on the grates, which gives the rather mild fish a nice charred and smoky flavor that is a welcome and unique compliment to the acidic flavors, which is accentuated with the addition of paprika or pimetón.
Celery seeds, a splash of lemon as well as the blistered tomatoes help bring a sweet acidity to the dish that is just dreamy with this sort of whitefish, as well as a cheeky glass of vino!
There’s not many who would turn their nose up to dish simple fish dishes.
Simple Lemon Pepper Tilapia
Lemon Pepper Wet is often known as the Holy Grail of Southern US cuisine, especially in the cookout world, so there’s no reason you can’t apply it to the grilled fish of the world, and these flavors never come through better in the world of fish than in the mild and pleasant Tilapia.
Calling this a recipe can be a bit of a stretch, but the idea is where the gold is. This dish is another really simple one that, once the BBQ is fired up, you can have dinner ready in a few minutes.
Ideal for a large cookout you, with this fish and recipe you can feed the thousands just like Jesus, just don’t forget the communion wine, right?!
Blackened Smoky Grilled Tilapia
This recipe is another easy one that can be done in under ten minutes if you do the prep beforehand. For said prep, all you need to do is create the blackening rub.
This rub is a combination of cajun spices such as paprika and cayenne, which add spice as well as smoky flavor.
The sweetness of the sugars in the spice rub is what helps the fish blacken, rather than you burning it, this simply means that there is a great smokey taste at the end which isn’t partnered with a funky fish flavor, simply the tender texture of the tilapia fish.
Another simple dish that uses classic BBQ spices to please the masses.
Grilled Tilapia With Basil Aioli
With this recipe, the Basil Aioli is the only thing that may take a little attention and care, but this aioli is also the star of the show alongside the fish without overshadowing the tilapia.
The tilapia is grilled with a basic but classic marinade that is a little touch of the Mediterranean in the US. We’re talking olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and salt, a winner with any eater.
This also moves away from traditional BBQ flavors while still embracing the smokiness it brings.
The basil aioli has the perfect amount of depth to really bring out these marinated flavors, and also keeps with the Mediterranean theme.
Even the European would be impressed with this powerful aioli, which really pairs well with the mild but smoky taste of the grilled fish.
Herbed Tilapia En Papillote
‘En Papillote’ is a French technique that refers to cooking things ‘in paper’ or in this circumstance, in foil.
This means the fish is steamed and basted in its own juices as well as what you put in there, making it very tender but losing the smoky flavor if that is something you don’t see as desirable.
This dish is particularly buttery and herby as it utilizes a herby butter to baste and marinate the fish on the grill while it’s wrapped in the foil.
The outcome is the most tender fish you have ever tried, a little salty, a little herby, a little lemony, and very buttery. This is the dish of dreams with a glass of white wine – bliss.
Grilled Tilapia Piccata
Now to Italy for a dish that utilizes the provincial ingredients of this great country, with the right imagination this dish can make you feel like you are on the beach in Sardinia, a true summer delight if you need some escapism in your food life.
The classic European marinade for fish, salt, lemon, garlic, and olive oil, is utilized readily in this recipe with a few other ingredients we might not be used to as Americans.
Namely, is the rather mysterious capers. Many think that capers are actually something to do with a fish, as they are often attributed to be quite salty, but we’re here to clear the gossip.
Capers are actually a flower bud, so they are totally plant-based, they aren’t fish eggs as many think they are.
These capers really help cut through the richness of the fish and provide a Euro-centric taste that is delightful in summer. The strong basil really ties everything together in a nice big Italian bow.
All these flavors, mainly the use of capers in modern non-traditional cuisine, is what leads the dish to be called ‘picatta’ which is an Italian approach to cooking meat.
Creamy Grilled Tilapia Piccata
This dish is a unique take on what you might expect at a barbecue, but could really impress guests with something a little more classy for a special summer occasion.
The grilled tilapia is flaky and mouth watering but is served with a creamy lemon piccata sauce that utilizes capers once more.
This use of heavy cream is not very BBQ-esque, but is something that makes the dish really classy.
Moreover, the cream simply balances the acidity and saltiness of the dish perfectly, and adds a luxurious and rich element to what is a fresh dish.
For those who aren’t keen on barbecued meats, this is a good way to still get the grill out while still making something classy.
Grilled And Stuffed Tilapia
Okay, now for something a bit more out there which really makes use of your barbecue and has the same spectacle and ritual you get from a hog roast or sit roast.
Get really friendly with your fishmonger and then get them to debone and gut a whole tilapia for you.
This might cost a little extra, but is totally worth it, because we’re going to stuff the fish with Asian goodness.
The main flavors are Asian influenced, specifically from the Philippines. The lucky Tilapia is stuffed with a combination of goodies such as garlic, ginger, onion, scallions, tomato, and more.
Watching people tuck into your fish around the table is something unique and special, and all thanks to your trusty grill.
Grilled Piccata Tilapia With Orzo
This takes another Italian spin on this dish that utilizes the piccata style sauce of capers, lemon, olive oil, garlic and more. We’ve covered why this gorgeous so well with Tilapia already.
However, the addition of the orzo, a small Italian pasta shape that is like risotto but larger, is a really fun addition to this cookout.
If you have some people around who love pasta and Italian food, but not necessarily barbecue, this is a good way to satisfy both the grill masters and the more classy diners.
Herb Marinated Tilapia Kebabs
Now this is a recipe we really think utilizes both experimentation and innovation on the grill as well as the traditional approach to barbecuing but all with a euro twist.
These are some really classy kebabs that basically everyone will love, they are rather unfussy and can be quite beautiful.
You need a good pound of tilapia as well as some artichoke hearts. Got to any local Italian deli, and you should be able to get some jarred artichoke hearts.
Artichoke Hearts have a really unique flavor that is totally European, they are a little salty and a little savory but have a really pleasant texture.
By the nature of the artichoke heart’s biology, both the artichoke and the tilapia have a very similar texture and taste.
They go so well with the cherry tomatoes which give you a burst of smoky sweetness and the marinade is typically European but adds that herby and bright tastes you always want with fish.
The recipe even suggests serving it alongside a simple pasta, which we think would be great.
As you can see, tilapia is a really versatile fish that you can use on the barbecue, as well as elsewhere in your kitchen, with great results.
It’s a really popular fish for grilling on the barbecue and is generally popular for its lack of a fishy taste, pleasing all at your cookout.
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