For this Mexican-inflected dish, mild tilapia fish fillets are rubbed with a mix of fiery pepper, chili powder, cumin, and oregano. On top is a sweet-tart salad.
Tomatillos look like small green tomatoes surrounded by a papery husk. They’re common in Mexican cooking, and their refreshing flavor is great either raw or cooked.–Fine Cooking
Spice-Rubbed Tilapia with Mango Salad
- One 15-ounce can black beans drained and rinsed
- 1/2 pound tomatillos papery covering discarded, fruit rinsed and cut into small dice
- 1 medium-size ripe mango peeled, pitted, and cut into small dice
- 1/2 cup small-diced red onion
- 1/3 cup fresh lime juice
- 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- Kosher salt
- 4 skinless tilapia fillets (about 4 ounces each)
- Put a heatproof serving platter on a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 200°F (93°C).
- In a medium bowl, combine the beans, tomatillos, mango, red onion, lime juice, 1/3 cup of the vegetable oil, cilantro, and a few grinds of black pepper; toss gently. Let the salad sit at room temperature while you cook the fish.
- Mix 1/4 teaspoon black pepper with the chili powder, cumin, oregano, and 1 teaspoon salt. Rub both sides of the tilapia fillets with the mixture.
- In a large (12-inch) nonstick skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat until hot. Cook two of the tilapia fillets until lightly browned and the flesh is opaque and cooked through, about 2 minutes on each side.
- Transfer the fish to the platter in the oven to keep warm while you cook the remaining two fillets. Transfer the fillets to the platter and spoon half of the salad on top. Serve with the remaining salad on the side.
Spice-Rubbed Tilapia With Mango Salad VariationsFor a different spice combination, try rubbing the fish with Old Bay seasoning. And for other salad combinations, try chickpeas or red beans in place of the black beans, and red tomato or cucumber in place of the tomatillo.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
This was a delightfully fresh meal. I used the Old Bay suggestion as a rub instead of the other spices and loved it. Since it was quite hot, we went with grilling this instead, which added a nice smokiness to the fish. Loved the salsa. It really made the meal sing. I might cut out the oil next time, though, just to bring out more of the tangy tartness of the salsa. There were no decent tomatillos available, so I went with the cucumber option. I suspect that if tomatillos were used instead, the salsa would benefit from a bit of oil due to their inherent tartness.
Originally published July 13, 2009