It’s pretty hard to search for an easy tilapia recipe and not find hundreds of variations on Parmesan crusted tilapia. While I do love a nice Parmesan crust, I’m also always on the look for ways to both eat more nuts and eat less cheese. So an almond crusted tilapia is a big winner.
And you’ll get plenty of great flavor from the garlic and ginger that’s mixed into the almond crust.
Origins of the Recipe
As far as fish goes, tilapia is a pretty sturdy variety with a good flavor that is pretty easy to cook. You can mildly overcook it without really noticing too much. If you’re concerned about sustainability, see what Seafood Watch has to say about Tilapia (it’s all good.
It also holds together really well and won’t completely fall apart when you try to flip it over. See my tips below on how to best do this.
For the crust, I basically took advantage of the two side dishes I was already preparing, a wheatberry and almond salad and sauteed red kale and borrowed some of their ingredients. This keeps things simple and ties all of the flavors of the dish together.
Getting Ready to Make an Almond Crust
Start by taking a handful of almonds and crushing them into a nice powder.
You can do this with a mortar-and-pestle, a mallet and a plastic bag or your food processor.
Shake the crushed almonds through a wire colander to separate the big chunks from the finer crumbs. With those fine almond crumbs, mix in the raw garlic and ginger to give it a great flavor. You’re now ready to press it on to the tilapia
Before applying the egg and almonds, give each filet a light season with salt and pepper. I like to season my meat, not the breadcrumbs, that way you’re certain about how much seasoning each tilapia filet receives.
Prepare a simple egg wash to dip the fish by lightly scrambling one egg in a large bowl (big enough to dip the tilapia filet). Next, dip the fish in the egg wash, press on the almond crumbs and set aside.
Cooking the Almond Crusted Tilapia
This doesn’t take long, so you can do this just before you’re ready to serve. Have the pan heated to medium high and pour in a little bit of oil. Cook the fish for 4-5 minutes per side. Remember, cook the presentation side first as it’ll have the best brown and color. Try to avoid having to flip back to this side.
Here’s a Pro Tip when flipping:
- Start your spatula under the shorter, thin side first and start to free it from the pan.
- Gently slide the spatula under the longer, thicker side so that the spatula is vertical under the tilapia (not coming at it from one of the sides. This will help you flip it the long way
- Flip the thicker side over first. If you start to flip on the thin side, the heavier part is likelier to break the fish
Making a simple tilapia pan sauce
After you cook the fish, you’re going to have a good amount of chopped almond, garlic and ginger left in the pan that’s bursting with flavor. As soon as the fish comes out, I took some leftover stock from making the wheat berries and poured in about half a cup. With a soft spatula, I worked up the tasty bits from the pan and started reducing it down to a nice sauce.
Once it starts bubbling and reducing down, add a tablespoon of cold butter here to help thicken. This is a technique known as “monte au beurre” in classic French cooking.
Another nice addition is a splash of the white wine you may be serving. Do not use a bottle of “cooking wine” that’s in the back of your spice cabinet. The rule of thumb is that if you wouldn’t drink it on its own, then you shouldn’t be cooking with it. When you use a splash from the same bottle of wine you’ll have with dinner, you’re helping pair the dish to the wine
This should only take about 5 minutes if the pan is still hot. Place a piece of aluminum foil over the tilapia pieces to keep them warm while making the sauce….as I doubt you have restaurant grade heating lamps over your counter.
Once the sauce has reduced down, gently spoon some over and around the almond crusted tilapia.
This Almond Crusted Tilapia has a great nutty texture and doesn't require any bread crumbs
- 2 Large Tilapia pieces
- 1 Cup Almonds
- 1 Tablespoon Garlic
- 1 Tablespoon Ginger
- 1 Egg Beaten
- 1/2 Cup Stock
- 1 Tablespoon Butter
- 1 Splash White Wine wine you would drink, not "cooking wine"
Crush the almonds (mortar & pestle, food processor, etc.) and sift out the larger chunks.
Set up two bowls, one with the egg and one with the sifted almonds
Lightly season the fish on both sides with salt and pepper
Dip the fish first in the eggs, then in the almonds. Press gently on the fish in the almonds to adhere as many as possible. (You can put it in the refrigerator now to let it rest before cooking)
Cook the tilapia in a skillet over medium heat for 4-5 minutes on each side. Start your spatula on the thin side of the filet, work it under to the thicker side and flip on the thick side.
After the fish comes out of the skillet, slowly pour in the stock and use your spatular to break up any fond in the bottom
After it starts to bubble, add the butter and let it melt completely. Splash in the wine and slowly stir
Let it continue to reduce over medium low heat for 3 to 5 minutes to thicken. If necessary pass through a sieve before serving