Blackened Tilapia & Corn Salsa

Blackened Tilapia

Growing up in a Filipino home, tilapia was a staple on the dinner table.  It was always simply broiled, served with jasmine rice and vegetables.  Tilapia was always something you could find at the Asian markets and it didn’t occur to me until in recent years, the versatility of this fish.

Limes & TomatoesCorn & Tomatoes

I was born in Philippines but my family moved to the U.S. when I was still very young.  My memories of the islands are less than fuzzy and virtually non-existent.  I sometimes question whether or not these minute childhood “recollections” are even real or are they something that I fabricated in my head from my family’s own memories?

But there is a very specific image in my head, and I’m sure it’s just something I saw on TV when I was little, perhaps the Filipino version of Sesame Street?  There is a man squatting in front of an open flame on the beach grilling a whole tilapia.  He placed the fish on a plate made out of banana leaves with a side of white rice and proceeded to devour his meal using his hands as utensils (a practice that is quite rustic but definitely not extinct).

The nostalgia of a tilapia, to me, is such a native and cultural icon to the motherland.  So this is quite a humbling experience to take this Filipino staple and explore it’s many colorful possibilities.

Blackened Tilapia

Ingredients (blackened seasoning):

2 Tbsp paprika
2 Tbsp cumin
2 Tbsp garlic powder
2 Tbsp onion powder
1 Tbsp black pepper
1 Tbsp dried thyme
1 Tbsp dried oregano

  1. Combine all the ingredients and mix thoroughly.
Ingredients (corn salsa):

1 15 oz. can of corn, drained
3 roma tomatoes, diced
1 medium shallot, minced
2 tsp cumin
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
the juice of one lime
a handful of chopped cilantro
salt & pepper to taste
  1. For a roasted corn effect (since all we have is an electric stove), lightly toast the corn kernels in a skillet  until they develop a light brown color. In a medium container, combine all the ingredients and mix thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours to allow the flavors to fuse together.
Ingredients (blackened tilapia):

4 tilapia filets
blackened seasoning
corn salsa
  1. Place your blackened seasoning in a shallow dish.  Drizzle a little olive oil on the tilapia filets and coat them generously with the seasoning. On a hot cast iron skillet, drizzle olive oil and cook each filet for about 4 minutes on each side, depending on the thickness.  Serve over brown rice and top with corn salsa.

2 Responses to “Blackened Tilapia & Corn Salsa”

  • Timeless Gourmet Says:

    Oh this looks so good! Thanks for sharing some of your cultural musings too, wouldn’t I just love to be on a beach grilling up some fish right now!

  • Dhale Says:

    @Timeless Gourmet: Thanks! I’m sure you’ll do wonders with all the fresh fish you’ve been catching in MA! But I guess grilling it at the beach will have to wait until it gets warmer :)

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