Lemon Pepper Tilapia

lemon pepper tilapia | sunsets on the side

lemon pepper tilapia | sunsets on the side

I ended up with my first box of lemon pepper panko crumbs sort of by mistake.  I was looking for regular, seasoned panko, but there weren’t any containers on the shelf at my store.  They were wiped out from the week’s sale, and the only option left was a lemon pepper flavor.  They turned out to be super flavorful and crunchy, and I almost always have them on hand now.  They make for quick and easy meals because they’re so highly seasoned that you hardly need to do anything except sprinkle these on top of a protein, bake it, and eat.

I’m just going to go ahead and call this a “dinner idea” because I’m not sure it even qualifies a recipe.  The measurements are based on the amount of fish that I had, so feel free to adjust accordingly.  Just spread a thin coating of mustard on each piece of fish and make sure you have enough panko to completely cover the mustard.

This is fast, easy, and totally adaptable to whatever you have around.  Tilapia was on sale this week, so that’s what I went with.  This would work just as well with pretty much any fish: salmon, cod, flounder…fresh or frozen…whatever.  Or, for non-fish fans, this would also work deliciously with chicken tenders.

Enjoy!

Lemon Pepper Tilapia
 
Author:
Makes: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 lb. tilapia filets
  • 1 T. + 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • ⅓ cup lemon pepper panko crumbs
  • 2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Pat the tilapia filets with paper towels to dry, and place them in the baking dish.
  3. Spread about 1 tsp. Dijon mustard onto each of the filets. Sprinkle each with ¼ tsp. kosher salt to season.
  4. Mix the panko crumbs and olive oil together in a small bowl. Spread the crumbs evenly over each of the tilapia pieces, and push down gently so they stick to the mustard.
  5. Bake for approximately 35 minutes until fish is cooked through and golden brown on top.

Loosely based on Ina’s panko-crusted salmon.

Coconut Tilapia & Avocado Lime Dipping Sauce

coconut tilapia with avocado lime dipping sauce

coconut tilapia with avocado lime dipping sauceI promised you Key West-inspired food, so here goes!

This is a lightened-up version of the (multiple) pounds of juicy, pink fried coconut shrimp we ate in Key West.  They were divine, of course, but this baked fish is a lighter way to enjoy the same flavors.  I paired it with a take on an avocado-cilantro sauce we had with calamari one night for dinner.  Again, it’s (a little bit?) lighter, with the reduced-fat sour cream, but still very flavorful.

Two things: (1) This is (obviously) great with shrimp, too.  I’ve made shrimp, tilapia, and even grouper with this breading, and it’s all great.  Any flaky white fish will work.  (2) I went light on the cilantro in this sauce.  I’m still working on my love-hate relationship with cilantro.  I’m getting there, slowly but surely.  If you prefer more, throw caution to the wind, friend!

coconut tilapia and avocado lime sauce

Coconut Tilapia & Avocado Lime Dipping Sauce
 
Author:
Makes: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 lb. tilapia filets
  • 1 cup seasoned panko crumbs
  • ⅓ cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 2 eggs
  • Salt & pepper
  • Olive oil for drizzling
  • 1 ripe Haas avocado, diced
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • ⅓ cup light sour cream
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tsp. minced cilantro
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Cut tilapia filets into 2” x 2” chunks. Pat them dry with paper towels.
  3. Place panko crumbs and sweetened coconut in a medium bowl. Season with salt and pepper and stir to combine. In a second bowl, crack both eggs and beat lightly with a fork. Place flour into a third, small bowl.
  4. Dip tilapia pieces into the flour and shake off the excess. Dip pieces into egg and then into the combined panko and coconut mixture. Place tilapia pieces onto the prepared baking sheet.
  5. Sprinkle the pieces lightly with salt and pepper and drizzle with a little bit of olive oil so that they brown nicely in the oven. Bake for approximately 25 minutes until the fish is cooked through and the outside is golden brown.
  6. Meanwhile, to make the dipping sauce, place the diced avocado, lime juice, sour cream, mayonnaise, and cilantro into a food processor. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Process until combined. Serve alongside the baked tilapia pieces.