I’d never seen it as a kid. Now it is one of the most common fish in the U.S., after salmon, tuna and shrimp — and has several nutritious qualities credited to it.

Tilapia, that lowly fish (any idea what it looks like swimming the ocean?) tastes mild while a good source of protein. It almost always the center of a delicious, easy and inexpensive meal. If you’re full of questions, follow a link below — or just get cooking from this idea from an old Gourmet, via Epicurious. I upgraded the salad.

Cilantro-Chipotle Tilapia with Mexican Pineapple Salad

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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For the fish:

  • 1 ½ cups chopped cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped canned chipotles in adobo
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 (6-ounces) tilapia fillets

 

Preheat broiler.

Purée cilantro, oil, chiles with some adobo sauce, water, cumin, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a blender until smooth, then coat the fish with sauce.

Line rack of a broiler pan with foil, then broil fish 3 to 4 inches from heat until just cooked through, anywhere from 4 to 7 minutes.

 

 For the Mexican Pineapple Salad

  • 1 (3-pound) pineapple, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 pound jicama, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1 14 oz. can black beans, rinsed
  • 1-2 avocado, cut into cubes
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced (1/2 cup)
  • 1-2 jalapeños, finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
  • Salt and pepper

 

Toss together all ingredients in a bowl.

 

As I get deeper into Cooking Patient I am finding Berkeley Wellness from University of California an interesting place for health-food data.

Bottom line on this question: Tilapia is popular for good reason—it’s inexpensive and widely available, plus it “goes with everything.” And though it’s not rich in omega-3s, it’s a good source of lean protein and is better for you than fatty meats like burgers and bacon. It can clearly be a part of a healthy diet if you like it, though as with all fish, we recommend you vary your intake and look for responsibly farmed (or wild-caught) sources.